The Green File: Take Our Buildings,Please
It looked for a while that the Mason County Senior Activities Center would buy the vacant property, but the deal fell apart when the senior center failed to get the grant funding it needed for the purchase.
Lately PUD 3 has had a handful of inquiries about the complex, which occupies a full city block bordered by Cota, Third, Fourth and Grove streets, but no serious offers, yet.
Meanwhile, it's costing the utility district some $48,000 a year (or $4,000 per month) to mothball the two buildings, according to a source. But PUD 3 Finance Manager Annette Creekpaum said the cost of maintenance, utilities and security systems for the two buildings is "probably less than $4,000 a month." The recent sale of the utility district's warehouse property on K Street has reduced the overall mothballing costs somewhat, officials said.
The two-story main building was built in 1958. It includes 14,000 square feet of interior space, an auditorium, elevator and seven bathrooms among other features, noted Joel Myer, the utility district's public information manager. The nearby former engineering building was built in the 1930s and was the Shelton Creamery for a number of years. PUD 3 purchased it in 1984 and six years later added some office space to it.
|IMAGE: Looking east at the former PUD 3 building in downtown Shelton.|
The one-block complex also features between 100 and 125 parking spaces, as well as a small park with a covered outdoor cooking area in the southwest corner. Several of the parking spaces are contained within a fenced area between the two buildings, another amenity. What's more, potential buyers would acquire buildings already wired for connection to a fiber optic network for computers and phones.
The downtown buildings have been vacant since last May, when PUD 3 moved most of its operations to the Johns Prairie site. Two years ago, the vacant property was appraised and its assessed value was around one million dollars, Creekpaum said. If an interested buyer steps up, another appraisal will be done.
"It looks like a nice civic building," Creekpaum said of the former administration building that fronts Cota Street. "We're looking for a buyer." If the buyer is a private party, the property will go back on the local tax rolls, she noted.
The Green File was sorry to see the utility district move out of downtown Shelton, which for years has witnessed a shrinking retail core. And while PUD 3 is not a retail entity, its employees patronized area restaurants and other establishments. Their absence is surely noted.
Now there is an opportunity for a savy business owner, government entity, non-profit organization or investor to take over the property and make something good happen there. That would be the best legacy for the utility district's flight out of downtown.
by Jeff Green