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Building for sale, warts and all

Anyone looking for an older building to purchase? The city of Farmington has one, but they're hoping to sell it as is.

This week, the Farmington City Council denied its second bid for structural engineering services for the current Rambling River Center. The company TDKA proposed to take a look at the current building for $2,000. And though that was significantly less than the other bid received -- $4,800 from Bonestroo -- council members said they did not want to spend the money.

The Rambling River Center is located in the same building the city helped to purchase more than 25 years ago, for that very purpose. And though seniors do not put a lot of wear and tear on the building, time and the elements do. When council members voted to relocate to the old city hall building on Oak Street, questions about the current site's future arose.

Specifically, mold has been found in the electrical maintenance room and portions of the outer footings and base are starting to crumble. The mold will be removed, but the exterior deterioration could mean other structural issues.

For a few weeks, council members had considered getting a structural engineer to come and review the building to find out the extent of the damage. The Bonestroo bid was high, so they sought another. But even with a significantly lower number, elected officials decided to put the building on the market as is and see if anyone wanted to purchase it.

City attorney Joel Jamnik said the city has no obligation to correct any flaws to the building prior to putting it on the market, as long as potential buyers are made aware that what they see is what they get, and any structural improvements would be left up to the new owners.

Mayor Todd Larson suggested putting the building on the market for six to eight months "to see if there are any bites." The building will not be vacated until late October, when the new Rambling River Center is expected to open. After the move, city officials will look at options again.

Though the council denied TDKA's bid and expressed interest in selling the building, the same elected officials will wait until the March 23 economic development authority meeting to authorize the sale.

Larson said he was interested in the dollar difference between Bonestroo's and TDKA's bids.

"That tells me we should be bidding more things out," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.