Hutchinson may soon be the owner of the former Econofoods building and site. The City Council on Tuesday approved a purchase agreement with Erickson’s, the current owner of the lot, and if all goes as planned it will be the site of the city’s new police station.
After months of negotiations, the city will pay $650,000 for the site and building that were originally listed for $1.9 million, according to City Administrator Matt Jaunich.
“I am happy with the price,” he said.
With the City Council’s vote Tuesday, the process of purchasing the site will begin, which includes an earnest payment of $10,000.
As part of the negotiation, the city has agreed to purchase the building and site as is, but that also includes a 90-day inspection period. During that period, the city will conduct a survey and check for environmental concerns. If anything objectionable is found, the city may walk away from the deal and the down payment would be returned.
“We’ll do some environmental testing and just kind of check to make sure the site, the building, everything is acceptable to purchase,” Jaunich said. “The last thing you want to do is purchase something and find out it’s on a well or something. We don’t have any concerns. I’m assuming that would have popped up when they built the Econofoods building, but you still want to do your due diligence to make sure the site is clean.”
Following the 90-day period, and assuming there are no issues, the city expects to close on the purchase around April 15, 2020.
The city has been considering the former Econofoods lot as a potential site for a new police station since 2017, following a master facilities plan that identified the current police station, which was built in 1989, as an issue.
“It was identified that the current police station is simply not adequate on many different fronts,” Jaunich said. “For one, the size does not meet the needs of the current police department, and two, we’ve got three different locations that our police department is in. Right now our investigative unit is not even in the same building as the rest of the officers.
“If you think back to when that building was obtained and what’s now all a part of what goes on in terms of equipment, we’ve essentially outgrown the current facility we’re in.”
With a purchase agreement now complete, the city will begin the work of planning the design, financing and site layout for the police station. Jaunich expects that to take between six and nine months.
“Now that we most likely have the site, we need to start looking at doing some design work for the new police station, and probably start having conversations on that lot,” he said. “Are we going to keep the whole lot for the police department, are we going to subdivide some of that out? … I’m assuming some of that will play hand in hand as we look at building the plans for the police station. And all along, too, we’ll continue to look at financing and budgets and where do we want that to line up with the city and where are we comfortable at.”
The plan, Jaunich said, is to raze the Econofoods building and construct a new police department facility on the site. Along with the police station, there have also been preliminary conversations about moving the DMV to that site as well. That will likely be part of the discussion during this planning phase, Jaunich said.
Assuming the city completes the purchase agreement and develops plans for the site, the city would then look to bid out the project. Jaunich said construction could begin as early as fall 2020, but more likely spring 2021.