Clearfield Commissioners to Negotiate Proposal for Multi-Service Center

John Sobel, Joan Robinson-McMillen and Mark McCracken, the Clearfield County Commissioners. (GantDaily File Photo)

CLEARFIELD – While the Clearfield County Commissioners received negative new interest in the Multi-Service Center, they authorized Board Chairman John A. Sobel to enter into negotiations with Jeffrey S. Long of Graystone Court and developer of Colonial Courtyard, who has twice submitted proposals for the purchase of the building.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners agreed that Sobel will not initiate any negotiations with Long until sometime after their Sept. 14 meeting with the Lawrence Township Supervisors. The board currently has a petition pending to re-zone the county property in the area of the Multi-Service Center.

Although they will engage in negotiations with Long, the commissioners also agreed to leave their options open. As a result, they will continue to accept any and all written proposals that are received by their office. They will maintain the same asking price of $350,000 for the building.

Long has twice-submitted his proposal to the board of commissioners in the amount of $126,000. His submissions were received during the first and second rounds of requests for proposals. In his Aug. 4 letter, he outlined his intended use for the building.

According to an Aug. 10 GantDaily report, Long said that his intention was to completely renovate the property and convert it into additional Graystone Court apartments. If further studies revealed it unfeasible to remodel the building, he said they may tear down and re-build a new unit.

“You can be rest assured that something positive for the community will come from our project plans and help put this property back onto the tax rolls for Clearfield County,” Long wrote in his submitted proposal to the board.

At an Aug. 24 meeting, Solicitor Kim Kesner advised a Graystone Court representative who was in attendance of a petition before the township to re-zone the land in the area of the Multi-Service Center. He said the current petition requests that it be re-zoned to industrial limited.

Kesner explained that residential apartments would not be a permitted use under the zoning designation of industrial limited. However, he said that the board of commissioners will hold further discussions about whether or not to proceed with the original re-zoning request.

Commissioner Joan Robinson-McMillen indicated that Long’s proposal has been the only one received so far. She said they initially set a minimum asking price of $750,000, which was reduced to $500,000 and then again to $350,000.

Robinson-McMillen also noted that the Multi-Service Center building has been appraised on two occasions. She said the setting values were in the amounts of $780,000 and $350,000, respectively. As a result, she questioned if there were alternative methods to determine the fair market value of the building.

“Do we know the fair market value outside of the two appraisals? Is it the lowest (of the two) appraisals?” she asked. Kesner said an appraisal is an estimated value of the building. He said it was up to the board’s judgment to determine the fair market value.

Commissioner Mark McCracken said they’ve been soliciting proposals “for weeks and now months.” He said they’ve received verbalized interest from other individuals, but their only written proposal was that of Long. Because it was lower than the asking price, McCracken asked if they could negotiate with him.

Kesner said they could “absolutely” negotiate with Long. He indicated that they would not be locked into a contract until they had voted on and approved an agreement of sale. He then suggested that they authorize a board member to do so and report back to them.

“I think it’s better to send someone out to explore,” Kesner told the board of commissioners. Both Robinson-McMillen and McCracken concurred that Sobel should represent them in negotiations with his background as an attorney.

According to a prior GantDaily report, the county purchased the Gray building for $183,000 with plans to relocate offices into the same from the Multi-Service Center. At a February meeting, Jerry Bankovich Jr. of KTH Architects gave a presentation, stating a study had been done in 2000 on the Multi-Service Center building.

He said the study indicated the Multi-Service Center was among the worse county buildings. At the time of the study, he said they estimated it would cost $2 million over a 10-year period for maintenance and upkeep of the building. To build a comparable structure, he said it would cost the county $5 million.

“Ultimately, the Gray building was the best option,” said Bankovich at the February meeting. “The building itself is basically a shell.” He continued, stating that the building is structurally sound.

Bankovich said the building’s first floor would house the Clearfield County Commissioners’ offices, County Election’s office, Veteran’s Affairs office and Controller’s office and the Clearfield County Planning Department. He said the second floor would house Clearfield County Children, Youth and Family Services.

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One thought on “Clearfield Commissioners to Negotiate Proposal for Multi-Service Center

  1. provoking1

    It is well known that there are structural issues with the multi-service center. The disparity of the valuation is the real issue. This has caused consternation and public reaction from the appraiser who valued the property at 780k.

    The solution is simple. The firm that appraised the property at 780k should buy it at what they must consider to be a fire sale price of 350k.

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