Renovation costs deter town from buying vacant shoe-making facility
By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - Any hope that the Town Council held for acquiring Dexter Shoe Co.'s Water Street facility was dashed this week when it learned that renovations would cost $3 million to $4 million. During a special meeting Thursday, council members agreed to notify Dexter Shoe Co.'s parent company, H.H. Brown, that they will not proceed with the $159,000 purchase of the building and property.
Since the shoe company closed its manufacturing operations in December 2001, Town Manager Robert Simpson and the council have worked for the town to buy one of its vacant buildings. They had hoped to renovate the Water Street facility to serve as a multitenant light manufacturing facility and use it to entice businesses to the community. One out-of-state business already expressed an interest in the building.
After months of negotiations, the council signed a purchase-and-sales agreement with the company that was contingent on the town's receiving a Community Development Block Grant for its renovation. That block grant, which has basically been assured, is for $400,000, not nearly enough to cover the estimated $3 million to $4 million in renovations that James W. Sewall Co. recommended in its facility assessment.
"I just don't see how we could move forward with those kinds of numbers facing us," Simpson said Thursday. He suggested the town make a "hasty retreat."
The breakdown of renovation costs identified by the engineering firm were as follows: $607,000 for life-safety codes; $175,000 to $331,000 for handicapped accessibility; $20,000 for an environmental site assessment; $1.3 million to $1.4 million for structural renovations; $145,000 to $564,000 for mechanical renovations or modifications; and $592,000 to $1 million for electrical renovations.
"There's no question this is certainly beyond our scope of being able to handle it," council member Fred Banks said.
Council member Dean Thompson said that even if the town had three tenants willing to operate in the building, the town still could not handle the cost.
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