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Robertson building could get a face lift

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By Jesse Osbourne

 

Proposals for the Robertson building have been reviewed and the result may be a nearly $2 million renovation to the historic property.


Two proposals were received for the building, but AU Associates in Lexington were awarded the winning bid.
The company, founded in 1990, specializes in adaptive reuse, historic preservation and affordable housing.
AU proposed to foot the bill for renovating the building at an estimated cost of $1.8 million, according to City Administrator Laurie Smith.
The completed project would provide affordable housing in downtown Springfield, with a commercial venue available on the first floor.
“What people know as the Robertson building, in fact, will be predominantly housing, but the main floor will be leased back to the city in this proposal for $1 a year.,” Smith said. “We will not have to pay a penny for the renovation.”
The city could then seek proposals for a tourism-related venue to fill the first floor, fulfilling the requirement set by the tourism commission when it paid $50,000 for a new roof on the building.
Smith said AU began doing projects in 1998 and has completed 12 throughout the state, ranging from $1.7 million to $15 million.
Some of the properties include a 1924 school building in Midway and a 1920s school building in Irvine, as well as a YMCA in downtown Louisville.
“They have a wonderful reputation,” Smith said. “We’re actually lucky that they came to Springfield. The people on the state level that know them said, ‘Does Springfield know how lucky they are to have AU visit their community and make this proposal?’
Nell Haydon, director of Springfield Main Street / Renaissance, agreed.
“The Kentucky Main Street program has been showing this company’s work off ever since I’ve been in the program,” she said. “We have toured their facilities. They do tremendous work. They are a very reputable company.”
The city council agreed to enter into an agreement with AU Associates, voting unanimously to do so.
“We do have to be patient, because a project like this can be expected to take two or three years,” Smith said. “First of all, through their affordable housing proposal, they’ll also be applying for some grant opportunities through the state. You have to be patient when you talk about grants.”
Curt Sissom, from Washington County, proposed an entertainment center. Sissom’s proposal didn’t include an offer to renovate the building, Smith said.

Tax rate passes
The second reading of the new property tax rate passed unanimously on Sept. 11 at the council meeting.
Since the 14-percent rate passed a second reading, a property owner will pay $140 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
The raise results in a four-percent increase in revenue and a .08 percent increase in rate to the taxpayer.
If the compensating rate (last year’s 13.2 percent) rate had remained, it would have resulted in $223,362 in revenue.
The new rate will result in $229,353 in revenue, about a $9,000 increase from the previous fiscal year.
The rate only applies to residents and property owners in the city limits of Springfield.

Woman’s Club proposal
The Woman’s Club accepted a proposal from the city to lease their building to use as a venue for local artisans and producers.
Smith originally said the venue could be open for the holiday season, but said a spring opening was more realistic.
The club is inactive and will have to process the necessary paperwork through the secretary of state in order to enter a lease with the city.

Forestry grant
The city voted to receive a $5,000 grant from the Kentucky Division of Forestry for landscaping. The city will match the amount with in-kind labor.
The landscaping is intended for the city pool property, but the motion was made to accept the grant with an amendment that reserves the city’s right to use the landscaping elsewhere.

Synthetic drug ordinance
An ordinance banning synthetic drugs received a first reading at the council meeting.
Should the ordinance pass, it would make it illegal for people to possess, use, sell, deliver, distribute, transport, transfer, trade, barter, exchange or purchase any synthetic drug as defined in the ordinance, or attempt to do any of the actions listed above.
It would also make it illegal to publicly display for sale any synthetic drug, as defined by the ordinance.
The penalty for violating the ordinance is a Class A misdemeanor.

Children’s theatre group on KET
Haydon advised in her report that the children’s theatre group will be featured on KET at 8 p.m. on Sept. 29.
KET visited the group numerous times, Haydon said.
The Central Kentucky Community Theatre was also featured in the Kentucky League of Cities Kentucky City magazine recently, according to Smith.

Tourism report
The Bourbon Chase will pass through Springfield and Washington County again this year, according to the tourism report.
Runners will begin entering the county around 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 and will continue passing through until 2 a.m. on Sept. 29.
There will be three exchange points in the county.
Exchange No. 9 will be at the farmers market from 3:30 p.m. until midnight.
Exchange No. 10 will be at the Bethlehem Baptist Church entrance and US 150, and will be open from 4:45 p.m. until 1:15 a.m.
Exchange No. 11 is at Deep Creek Road and KY 150, open from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Police department report
Springfield Police Department Chief Jim Smith said Officer Brad Carrico has graduated from the academy and is working the streets.
He added that the new safety officer, former council member Paul Borders, has assisted with funeral and school traffic.
“It has worked out very well and I have received many positive comments from the community,” Smith wrote in the report.
All council members were present. The next city council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 9 at 5:30 p.m.