MISHAWAKA — The city has offered to buy the former Kamm Island Apartment property and demolish it, enhancing any future renovation of the 100 Center’s pre-Civil War Kamm and Schellinger Brewery building.
A buy-sell agreement for the building and property at 750 Island View Lane will come before the Redevelopment Commission on Monday. The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. in City Hall, 600 E. Third St.
The city will offer $862,500 for the building and land to Indiana Land Trust 750SM, current owners. Ken Prince, director of planning and community development, said in remarks to the commission the price is the average of two appraisals of the property, based largely on the income generated by the 24 efficiency apartments.
The former apartment building sits north of the rear of the 100 Center on a raceway from the St. Joseph River, a brewery-turned-mall during the 1960s that transformed the former brewery to a mixed-use center for restaurants, retailers and other businesses. The Grape Road commercial boom in the 1980s, however, hastened the center’s economic decline.
The historic brewery building, owned by AA Access Corp. of LaGrange, Ill., is for sale for $995,000 for the nearly 100,000-square-foot structure. It was sold last September at a tax sale to Indiana Tax Auction LLC, of Stamford, Conn., for $499,999 for AA Access’ back tax bill that is in arrears, according to records with the county auditor’s office.
Prince said that the city believes there is a purchase agreement in play for the brewery property.
“Although we have not received any plans for the redevelopment of the 100 center, (sic) our understanding is that an agreement has been reached on the purchase of the main brewery complex from the out of town developer that let the buildings decay over the last decade,” Prince said in his remarks.
A real estate representative believed to be involved in the potential sale did not return phone calls.
Buying and razing the apartment building would give the city a role in the possible unification of features between the 100 Center and the river, largely by bridges, links to the Riverwalk and by visual features in the remaking of the 100 Center site, Prince said.
100 Center conditions
The brewery building has suffered neglect over the past few decades that includes broken windows, rotted wooden entrance porches and empty space.
The Mishawaka code enforcement department has continued its demands for AA Access Corp. to correct the maintenance violations at the site under threat of fines. That amount has topped $200,000. Owners have been asked to repair or replace cracked and broken windows as well as cracks in exterior walls. All walkways at entrances also are required to be repaired, as well as scraping and painting exterior areas, including soffits and fascia areas.
Meanwhile, owners of the Kamm Island Apartments purchased the structure last year. They had planned to renovate the living areas, but an electrical fire caused damage to the building’s electrical service as well as the Mishawaka Utilities’ equipment serving the building.
Tenants underwent tough conditions while the electrical work was done. It took several weeks to fix the problems, yet those living there were left to endure substandard living arrangements without electricity.
Prince said the city had approached the apartment building owners in the past, saying that the poor conditions of the building were “a detriment to redevelopment.”
When recent word was received that developers were thinking of renovating the apartment building, Prince stated: ” … the City administration identified a remodel (of the Kamm Island Apartments) as a concern and a potential detriment to the redevelopment of the 100 center.”
The apartments also have had a checkered past, with what Prince described as a “disproportionate” amount of police and EMS calls when they were occupied. The conversion of the motel into apartments catered to transients, and the little to no investment into the building over the years resulted in a blighted facility.
Should the Redevelopment Commission approve the buy-sell agreement, the Common Council will review the matter and would have to approve the addition of the apartment property to the city’s acquisition list.
Prince said should the council deny the acquisition, the purchase agreement would be be null and void and developers would have the opportunity to renovate the apartments as was the case before the city approached them for possible acquisition.
Should the council approve the acquisition, Prince said the demolition likely could take place as early as this fall. The concrete-block structure would be demolished but the raceway retaining wall would remain intact.
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