A vacant lot owned by the city of Cherokee will be for sale for the fourth time since the city acquired it in 2001.
The property is on Fourth Street just south of the alley south of the Lewis Hotel. The lot is adjacent to Jobe's Pastime Lounge.
Robert "Ben" Jobe, the owner of the Pastime has expressed an interest in the property in order to expand his business. He has bid on the property before when it has been put up for auction.
The first time the city had put the property up for bid was in 2003 when the city had required a minimum bid of $12,750 for the property.
Jobe bid $1,000 at that time. Jobe's bid was rejected as not meeting the minimum required for the property.
Bids were solicited once again in 2005, this time with a minimum set at $1,000, but at a July 2005 city council meeting, the council voted 3 to 2 to reject the one bid submitted without opening it.
In June of 2006, bids were again solicited with a minimum set at $1,000. Two bids were submitted. The high bid of $1,701 was submitted by Schoon Investments, Inc. Jobe again submitted a bid of $1,000.
The council voted 3 to 1 to reject both bids.
Back in 2001, a vacant building next to the Pastime had been purchased by Central Bank (at that time Central Bank & Trust) and given to the city of Cherokee to be turned into a parking lot. The city demolished the building and filled in the basement at a cost of $37,000. Central Bank reports that it had purchased the property for $10,000.
There were plans to pave the parking lot, but the ground is considered too unstable for that since the footings were left in after the basement was filled in. Building a structure on the property would not be possible without removing the footings. The lot is covered with gravel.
At this week's council meeting, Dwight Varce spoke against getting bids again for the lot. He referred to the need for parking downtown and noted that future development at the Lewis Hotel could generate the need for more parking.
Jim Peck said that five or six vehicles were all that could be parked there, perhaps seven small vehicles parked close together. He said it is difficult to remove snow from the lot.
"It's just another lot to maintain," Bob Leach said.
Jim Agnitsch, supervisor of the Cherokee Street Department, said he believes the lot should be sold. He said it's a pain to remove snow because of utility poles.
Varce said that the lot might be purchased by the bank and kept as a parking lot anyway.
Mick Mallory said that even if it was kept as a parking lot, selling the property would get it back on the tax rolls and then somebody other than the city would be responsible for maintaining it.
A motion by Varce not to sell the lot failed for the lack of a second. Varce was the only council member to vote against a motion to put the lot up for bid with a minimum bid of $1,000. That motion passed 4 to 1.
A date has not been set for accepting bids. The city clerk will look into whether another public hearing is needed to sell the property again.