Warren Fiscal Court is again expanding the county government’s real estate footprint.
Less than a month after agreeing to the $1.2 million purchase of the Community Action of Southern Kentucky building on Center Street, fiscal court voted Monday to spend $1.4 million to purchase the Sugar Maple Square building on Ky. 185.
This real estate acquisition, though, comes with an offset. The magistrates, in Monday’s meeting held via Zoom teleconference, voted to accept bids from potential purchasers of the county road department building.
That sale will pave the way for the growing road department to eventually move out of its current 10,200-square-foot building on East Fifth Avenue into new quarters at the 56,848-square-foot Sugar Maple Square building that was built in the early 1990s as a retail center by Camping World founder David B. Garvin, who died in 2014.
“Sugar Maple Square was built out of love for that area of the county by David Garvin,” Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said in explaining the purchase. “He made an investment to serve the people of that community.
“Now the Garvin family feels that the county can best preserve that legacy.”
David C. Garvin, son of the Camping World founder, confirmed that.
“Speaking for myself, my mom and the whole family, we’re so proud the county will take over the property,” he said. “It’s going to help the community. The county’s presence will keep that area clean and safe.”
Garvin said his family sold the property to the county for a bit less than it could have gotten from private investors who have made offers on a building that hasn’t maintained its original retail focus and now houses a few service-type businesses.
Buchanon said the selling price is about $200,000 below the property’s assessed value.
The purchase of 14 acres doesn’t include the neighboring Hines Pharmacy or the Dollar General store, but Buchanon said it does include the “Ironwood shop” building that the elder Garvin and his family used to work on equipment.
Buchanon believes the purchase will give the county government plenty of room to grow and keep pace with the county’s growing population.
“The road department building has served us well, but we’re outgrowing it,” Buchanon said.
In addition to housing a new home for a road department that now has 23 employees, the Sugar Maple Square building could eventually be an overflow home for other county departments such as the sheriff’s office, Buchanon said.
He expects the county to take possession of the property in November, but Buchanon and Garvin said there are no immediate plans to evict such tenants as a day care center and a church that are now leasing space.
“I think the judge and our family have the same goal,” Garvin said. “There are tenants in there that serve the community. I don’t think they’ll want to kick anybody out.”
In addition to making decisions on what county offices are going to move into the Sugar Maple Square building, Buchanon must decide how to best utilize the 9,636-square-foot structure at 171 Center St. that had been home to CASK and entertain bids on the old road department building.
Because of its location near downtown, the road department building has already attracted some interest.
“I’ve had two verbal offers from Realtors and a written offer from a Realtor,” Buchanon said. “There’s a lot of interest in the downtown area now. We felt like this was a good time to look at all opportunities.”
Despite the interest, Buchanon said he couldn’t move on any offer without going through a bid process.
“I can’t just take offers,” he said. “We have to advertise for public bids. You have to make sure you maximize your return for the taxpayers.”
The magistrates made another noteworthy purchase at Monday’s meeting.
Less than a month after authorizing Warren County Emergency Management to advertise for bids to purchase a 16-body refrigerated remains trailer for use by emergency management and the county coroner’s office, the magistrates accepted the $62,627 bid of South Carolina-based Mortuary Response Solutions.
County Emergency Management Director Ronnie Pearson said earlier this month that purchasing the trailer is needed both to address the county’s growth and the demands of the rising death rate brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID has contributed to the problem,” Pearson said. “We’ve had a couple of incidents since the pandemic started where we were at capacity at our hospitals and at the coroner’s office.
“We don’t want to get into that position again.”
County Coroner Kevin Kirby said the portable trailer for storing bodies is a “wise investment” that can help during the pandemic and during any future disaster resulting in mass fatalities.
In other action Monday, the magistrates voted to spend $28,225 for the purchase and installation of portable bleachers at the rear of Henry F. Moss Middle School.
The bleachers, in a partnership between the county parks department and Warren County Public Schools, will be used to bring more sports activities to the west side of the county.
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.