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City may buy downtown building -- Stipulation could derail deal with hospital board

December 19, 2012

    The City of Decatur owns the corner of Second and Monroe streets where the onetime sweeper shop/Holthouse Drug Co. building stood before its recent demolition, and it's possible the city may one day own the building on the corner across Second St.
    Mayor John Schultz revealed at Tuesday night's city council meeting that the city made a bid on the onetime First State Bank building on the southeast corner of the intersection, a structure owned by the Adams Health Network (AHN) for a number of years.
    AHN — which oversees Adams Memorial Hospital, Woodcrest, Evergreen Assisted Living, etc. — accepted the city's $25,000 bid with two stipulations. One of the two is a hangup, though, and could derail the purchase.
    AHN, which hasn't used the two-story building in over a year, recently put it up for sale. It is believed that the city's bid was the only one AHN received.
    The board had in the specifications that any sale agreement will contain a restrictive covenant that the purchaser would not sell, or use, the building for any health-related business for 20 years.
    Since then, however, AHN wants the stipulation that the city, should it decide to sell the structure at any time, would grant AHN the right of first refusal.
    There was agreement among the mayor and five council members that the covenant would not be a problem, but there was total opposition to having a right-of-first-refusal in any contract.
    "I don't think we should do it," the mayor said. "We were elected to represent the city," and that provision could be a hinderance to the city's best interests in the future. Council members quickly and strongly agreed.
    So council directed City Attorney Tim Baker to inform AHN attorney Adam Miller about council's decision and see what happens next.

    NO PLANS: "I want to say that we have no plans at this time to do anything with that (building and land)," the mayor said. "We are interested in it because it would give us control over a building in that area of the city."

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