City considers purchase of Banner Bank building

Published on Thu, Jul 7, 2011 by Tara Nelson

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Blaine city hall could occupy the four-story Banner Bank building downtown if the details of a purchase and sales agreement are finalized.

Following an executive session Monday, June 27, Blaine City Council approved an agreement between the city of Blaine and Exports, Inc., a Washington corporation, that would give the city six months to explore the option of purchasing the 25,000-square foot Banner Bank building.

Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic said the building was valued at $1.76 million and the purchase would be partially offset by keeping the existing tenants. Banner Bank is the anchor tenant on the first floor, and the second floor is fully leased.

The city would occupy about 7,000 square feet. The general government offices would move to the third floor, and the fourth floor would be redesigned for the City Council chambers, municipal court and public space for community events and meetings.

The rest of the purchase would be funded through real estate excise taxes.

Tomsic said the move is necessary because the current city hall is seismically unsafe, contains asbestos and has areas of “significant mold and moisture in the walls.” At one point, mushrooms were growing in the walls and carpet. The city has spent nearly $50,000 on removing mold, replacing the roof and installing new carpeting on the first floor. The current location cannot accommodate the staffing needs for future growth, he added.

“The simple answer is that there is an immediate need for new space to accommodate current and future needs for a safe and healthy workplace,” he said. “That, and the current conditions of the building are a liability to the city.”

Tomsic said the city is currently in the process of hiring an architect to estimate the cost of remodeling the Banner Bank building space.

The former city hall would either be leased or demolished. If the building is demolished, Tomsic said the city could appoint a citizen’s committee to help develop a master plan for the block, which may include a new senior center, library or community center.

“We should be very reluctant to lease a building that we don’t want to work in,” he said. “But that property has a lot of value, and it could be used to meet the future needs of the city as it grows.”

The agreement gives the city up to six months to explore the feasibility of purchasing the building and requires $25,000 in earnest money.