Shortly after asking the City of Greensburg to donate $200,000 toward a retail business building he and wife Susan are spearheading, Scott Brown got exactly that amount pledge to the cause by South Central Community Foundation, the commitment raising the pledged amount to slightly over $750,000. Brown said it will take around a million dollars to get the structure built.
Scott Brown’s efforts to spearhead construction of a 10,000 square foot building offering rental space for retail businesses on Greensburg’s Main Street got a major boost recently when South Central Community Foundation (SCCF) in Pratt pledged all of the $200,000 Brown requested in mid-November.
Brown made a presentation to SCCF shortly after having done the same to Greensburg’s City Council at their November 17 meeting, where he asked for the same amount toward the development. Brown said Friday he’s been assured by City Administrator Steve Hewitt the council will made a decision at its December 1 meeting as to how much of the $200,000 Brown requested the City can afford to donate to the project, despite Hewitt and Mayor Bob Dixson being in China at the time to meet with officials of Greensburg’s newly adopted sister city, Mianzhu City.
While Hewitt confirmed to The Signal Friday morning that he has already made a recommendation to the council of an amount he and his staff think the City can manage at this time, he declined to name that figure on the record.
“I expect the council to make a decision Monday night, even though Bob and I won’t be there,” he said. “I don’t know how much they’ll decide on, though I have passed on a recommendation. I’m enthusiastic about us giving toward this and I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback about doing so.”
Brown said he received a phone call from a SCCF representative within 45 minutes of his having met with them, informing him the foundation was willing to earmark for the project the entire $200,000 he’d sought. The pledge brings the total committed to date to just over $750,000 according to Brown, or three-fourths of the $1 million he’s been told it will take to erect the structure that would stand on the east side of Main Street, directly across the street from the City’s Business Incubator Building now being constructed and due for completion in mid-January.
Not knowing how much of his request SCCF would give toward the project, Brown said he was gratified to get the whole amount.
“I knew they’d gotten over a million dollars to help Greensburg rebuild, but I didn’t know how much of that had already been committed to the hospital, school, government buildings and so forth,” Brown said. “Those are worthy things, too, but until now there’s been a gap for helping retail business get going again. Not knowing how much money they had left, I was very glad to get the full amount I asked for.”
Though the paperwork for making the business rental center a 501 C 3 enterprise will likely not be completed for another 90 days or so, Brown said donations to the project would be channeled through SCCF’s tax deductible status for the time being, meaning that if a decision is made to go ahead with the development, fulfillment of pledges made by December 31 would be tax deductible for tax year 2008. Those made January 1 or later would, of course, not be deductible until calculating income tax owed for tax year 2009.
Though Brown and wife Susan are self-described organizers of the Main Street project, the local realtor and auctioneer said he wants it known this isn’t his project.
“Neither Susan nor I profit from this,” he said. “We’re the ones spearheading this because we think it’s important for the revival of retail business in town, but it’s not a personal investment for us. This isn’t going to be the Scott Brown Building.”
Brown said December 15 has been designated a cutoff date of sorts for determining whether the project will go forward.
“Shortly after December 15, all those who’ve pledged at least $5,000 toward this will be invited to a meeting where we’ll decide if we’re close enough (in terms of dollars pledged) to go ahead with this,” Brown said. “If we decide we are, then we’ll name a board of directors and come up with a name for the building.”
Brown acknowledged the amount pledged by the City at its December 1 meeting will have a significant impact on the feasibility of going forward with the project.
Though no formal action has been taken to actually acquire land for the building, Brown has commitments from current property owners to acquire the 200 feet adjacent to the north wall of the Robinett Building on the east side of South Main to be either sold or donated toward the development. Those property owners are, from south to north, Gary and Erica Goodman (who own the Robinett Building as well as the lot immediately to the north), Twilight Theatre Board, Dale Hayse, and Kiowa County (site of former County Library).
Saying the business incubator building currently being constructed on the west side of Main Street is “a great thing for some people,” Brown said the structure he’s hoping for will better meet the needs of retailers needing “more than 700 or so square feet of space” and likewise looking to “stay in their spot indefinitely.”
Those businesses locating in the City’s incubator building are expected to occupy their space no longer than four years, though Economic Developer Jeanette Siemens told The Signal that after four years, staying longer “could be negotiated if there’s not a waiting list for that spot.”
“A business is going to have to be awfully successful awfully fast to be able to go out in a couple of years and put up a $200,000 building, “Brown said. “But in the building we’re looking to put up a business could still be there in 15 or 20 years if that suits them. As long as they can pay the rent, they can be there.”
Brown has said that current plans are to divide the 10,000 square feet of the proposed building into eight spaces of 1,250 square feet each, at a rental rate of 50 cents per square foot, or $625 a month.
The City’s Incubator Building has 10 total spaces available, ranging from 200 square feet in the second level, to seven on the ground floor, which go up to nearly 800 square feet in size. Siemens said six of the seven spaces on the ground floor are spoken for, with the seventh “iffy” depending on whether a planned coffee shop “actually goes in.” All three of the smaller spaces on the second floor are available at present.
Spaces on the ground floor rent for 45 cents a square foot, plus a monthly $25 fee for water, sewer and gas, in addition to metered electrical charges. Second floor rooms go for 65 cents a square foot with a monthly $75 utility fee.
Brown has said he already has verbal commitments from four business interests to occupy half the spaces available in the east side structure he’s spearheading.