Historic Third Street homes

Goshen Redevelopment Commission members are currently reviewing a proposal for the purchase of this historic brick home, located at 401 S. Third St., and a connected property at 204 W. Madison St., after pulling back on a plan to demolish the connected properties.

GOSHEN — The owner of a Goshen company hoping to purchase and renovate two historic South Third Street buildings recently targeted for demolition by the city will have to wait another month before learning the fate of his plan.

During their meeting Tuesday afternoon, Goshen Redevelopment Commission members voted to find that a $237,000 bid by the company to purchase the commission-owned buildings, located at 401 S. Third St. and 204 W. Madison St., was not in fact a full-price offer as initially believed.

The commission’s members had originally opened the bid during their Sept. 10 meeting in reply to a request for proposals seeking offers for the two historic buildings, which in recent years have served as rental properties, as well as three nearby vacant lots at 405, 409 and 411 S. Third St.

Submitting the bid for the properties was Rethinking Buildings LLC, which is operated by Adam Scharf, a local small business owner and Goshen City Council representative for District 5.

According to city attorney Larry Barkes, while the bid submitted by Rethinking Buildings LLC back in September had originally appeared to be a full-price offer, further review of the submission has since resulted in a reversal of that opinion.

“After reviewing Rethinking Buildings LLC’s proposal, I conclude that the offer is not a cash offer for $237,000 as required to avoid extending the time period for redevelopment to solicit purchase offers as set forth in the Redevelopment Commission Request for Proposals,” Barkes said. “Rethinking Building LLC’s current proposal does not offer to purchase the real estate in exchange for $237,000. Instead, the proposal offers to take possession of 401 S. Third St. and 204 W. Madison St. and commence a ‘historic rehabilitation’ on or about April 1, 2020, and concluding on or about Sept. 30, 2020.

“In addition, the proposal agrees to market the sale of Parcels 1, 2 and 3 beginning on or about April 1, 2020, with anticipated closings occurring between Oct. 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021,” Barkes added. “Since marketing the lots is to begin April 1, 2020, the sale of lots may occur faster than estimated, but they also may take longer than estimated. Until Parcels 1, 2 or 3 are sold, no payment is owed to redevelopment under the proposal. Under the terms of the proposal, it is possible Lot 4 and Lot 5 can be renovated and sold or rented by Rethinking Buildings LLC without any payment to redevelopment. Since payment for the real estate is significantly delayed and not guaranteed under the terms of the proposal, the offer is not a full price offer.”

Given the submitted bid was determined by Barkes not to be a full-price offer, commission members Tuesday voted to extend the RFP submission window for an additional 30 days to allow more time for additional offers, as is customary under such circumstances.

“Just to clarify one thing: if you were to make this exact same proposal after the additional 30 days, this commission could absolutely accept it,” Barkes explained to Scharf prior to Tuesday’s vote. “That’s what we’ve done in the past, is when we get these kinds of proposals that aren’t completely full price offers, we go out for an additional 30 days, look at the proposals, and they can be accepted at a lower amount. And there’s no reason why yours wouldn’t qualify under that second proposal where we go out for an additional 30 days.”

HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE

Originally brought up as an item for consideration during the RDC’s May 14 meeting, the call for demolition of the two historic buildings at 401 S. Third St. and 204 W. Madison St. essentially involved a desire by some on the commission to demolish the homes, rather than make any substantial investments in the aging buildings.

However, commission members ultimately ended up pulling back on that demolition plan after several community members, as well as the Goshen Historical Society, raised concerns the buildings, reportedly constructed in the 1860s, may have historical significance for the city and thus warrant preservation.

During their June 11 meeting, commission members agreed to table the item for 90 days to allow time for more research on the history of the buildings, and to accept any proposals from people who may want to purchase them.

“The original plan from years ago was to offer up that half block for redevelopment and 405, 409 and 411 have been demolished over the past several years,” Becky Hutsell, redevelopment project manager for the city, said. “We had taken a request to the commission in June to award a demolition contract for 401 and 204, and that’s when the historical society noted the significance of the properties and asked for them to not be demolished. As such, we’ve put together an RFP for anyone interested in purchasing/restoring them or redeveloping the half block. It only made sense to offer all lots in the half block as part of the RFP.”

SCHARF’S PLAN

According to Scharf, the two brick buildings at 401 S. Third St. and 204 W. Madison St. are the only known structures pre-dating the construction of the Goshen millrace still standing in the immediate vicinity of the canal, and thus warrant being restored and preserved.

“The houses at 401 S. Third St. and 204 E. Madison St. will be stabilized and substantially renovated, rejuvenating these neglected brick structures and weaving them into the fabric of urban preservation and progress that is manifest in Goshen’s River Race redevelopment area and the adjoining neighborhood and central business district,” Scharf said. “In consultation with local historians, advocates, and our design team members we will identify and execute key architectural elements for restoration or re-creation. This may include ‘gingerbread’ trim at the front facade gable, replaced Italianate brackets at the southeast addition to 401, restored historic doors, and so forth.

“Later additions such as the connecting breezeway, the west garage addition, as well as elements that may prove structurally unrepairable or aesthetically undesirable, may be demolished — in whole or part — or altered,” Scharf added. “New garages, house additions, amenities and/or accessory buildings may be added to meet modern market demands.”

While the initial intent of his plan is residential use for the existing structures on Parcels 4 and 5, Scharf noted the project will be receptive and responsive to viable and compatible light commercial/professional or mixed uses that may arise, and requested in his proposal that the RDC support such possibilities, including any necessary zoning changes or variances.

As for the three vacant parcels at 405, 409 and 411 S. Third St., Scharf said his plan for those lots would be to market them for residential development in keeping with the area’s Residential-3 zoning designation.

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.

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