The Casper City Council will vote on Monday on the purchase of a vacant lot for potential conference center construction.
A special meeting will be at 4 p.m. in City Hall, 200 N. David St., and will be the first time new council members will vote on the project. The council does not normally have a meeting the fifth week of a month, but the city’s exclusive right to buy the land north of Collins Drive between Ash and David streets expires Thursday.
“It comes due the end of this month, and so we either have to exercise it or let it lapse,”City Manager John Patterson said. “There won’t be an extension to it.”
In August, the city made a down payment of $15,000 to Arlene LLC that would be subtracted from a total purchase cost of $650,000. Arlene LLC donated more than half of the cost of the property valued at $1.5 million in exchange for naming rights of a plaza, which would potentially be located north of the historic fire station on South David Street.
Agreements to secure the purchasing rights for surrounding properties are estimated at $55,000, or 1 percent of the total property cost. But Patterson said purchasing the vacant lot would not mean the council members would pursue other agreements.
“This one, we had entered into prior to finding out that we’d have a delay and some difficulty in acquiring the state-owned piece there at the corner of David and old Yellowstone,” he said.
The city has $5.5 million in capital reserves to use for land acquisition, and estimated demolition costs at the proposed site are less than $900,000. Patterson said he expects a discussion about the “viability” of a conference center at the proposed site, however, before any further action is taken to acquire property.
If council members agree to purchase the land but do not use it for a conference center, Patterson said it could be sold to a developer. The city could seek to fill the lot with mixed-use development or anything from a grocery store to housing.
“It’s a great piece of property,” he said. “One of the last 3-acre pieces of property available in the downtown area.”