Brent Finnegan -- February 26th, 2010
One Court Square has been vacant for so long, it’s become a sort of unfunny joke among certain downtowners. The city and HRHA bought the property for $1 million in 2004, spent another $450,000 on renovations, and has been unsuccessfully trying to break even on a sale ever since. Despite rumors of businesses moving in, past bids have been well below what the city has put into it.
But now, despite a depressed commercial real estate market, City Council and HRHA are trying to sell it again. There’s a request for proposal announcement on the city’s website.
The sale is considered a “high priority,” but it’s clear that they’re not going to simply sell the 26,000 square foot property to the highest bidder. The RFP [PDF] comes with quite a few special requirements:
Unlike a traditional sale of City-owned property, this RFP approach will provide the Proposer(s) an opportunity to present plans for the use(s) and redevelopment of the property . . .
Through the [competitive market analysis] the Proposer(s) is/are being asked to demonstrate to the City and HRHA that
the proposed uses of the property can be economically viable within the Harrisonburg market . . . The proposal will need to identify how the use(s) of the building and renovations/alterations to the building will complement and enhance the existing downtown area.
Those interested in responding to this RFP must have a sound understanding of the goals of this solicitation, the skills and financial resources necessary to satisfactorily complete the work and a demonstrated track record of having successfully completed similar development/redevelopment projects.
The winning proposal must be approved by City Council.
Considering the commercial real estate market is in the tank — and expected to get worse before it gets better — it’s hard to imagine the city would expect new bids to exceed offers that were previously rejected for being too low. In 2008, the city turned down an $801,500 bid on the grounds that it “[did] not cover the city’s more than $1.4 million investment.”
Two years later, this RFP sends the message; “use is more important than sale price.”
Any realtors, economists, or insiders have a different take?
(Thanks, John, for drawing this to our attention)