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Monday, April 16th, 2007

Ex-bank office won't become city property

By Timothy Cox
Celina city officials have decided against buying the former bank building on West Market Street, the second time in recent years they have rejected the idea.
That means the Celina Police Department won't be getting a new home anytime soon. Those who favored the proposal wanted to move the police department to the current utilities office and the utilities and administration staff into the former bank building.
Mayor Sharon LaRue this morning said the building in the 100 block of West Market Street simply wasn't a good fit for the city. The building is owned by First Financial, which already owns several downtown buildings.
"We have told them we are not going to accept their offer," LaRue said.
After careful study, city officials decided "we would not fit very well up there. We would have to retrofit the building instead of the building fitting us," she said.
Celina City Council members last discussed the issue during an April 5 committee meeting, where they met privately in executive session to discuss the bank's offer. Administration officials decided last week to end the months-long discussion on the building, LaRue said.
The asking price for the building already had been publicly disclosed to be $200,000, considered well below market value.
The bank building has about 8,000 square feet of space, slightly less than the current utilities office. The building includes a sprawling lobby area, six teller windows, a dozen offices, a conference room, break room and upstairs storage area.
The building also has a nine-space parking lot with a 30-space municipal parking lot less than a block away.
Officials had acknowledged ing costs incurred to make the bank building move-in ready. More extensive renovations would have been necessary to make the utilities office ready to house the police department.
"The price was right and we liked the aspect of being downtown ... but we felt like we would be losing some space," LaRue said.
Some council members had supported the proposed acquisition while others had expressed concerns. Critics pointed to renovation costs, the reduction in available space and the lack of room to expand at the downtown site.
LaRue said larger facilities for the police department remains a challenge city officials will continue to face.
"We're still looking for a new home for the police department. That remains a top priority," LaRue said.
Additional online story on this date
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