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Most bidders want to raze Kime Science Center

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Le Mars City Council Tuesday will consider three written offers to buy Kime Science Center on the former Westmar University campus. One of the proposals is from United Methodist Church, of Le Mars, located northeast of Kime. Others are from Kellen Excavating and Lucky 47 Steel Works, both of Le Mars.
Three offers to buy the former Westmar University Kime Science Center will be considered at the noon meeting of the Le Mars City Council Tuesday.

The Kime Science Center, at the intersection of 10th Street and Second Avenue Southeast, was used for classrooms, laboratories, a conference room, a greenhouse, private offices and a theatre/lecture hall until Westmar closed in November 1997.

Two of the three potential buyers would demolish the three-story building and the third proposes to convert the 45-year-old structure to a business.

Purchase proposals submitted to the city by noon Friday were from United Methodist Church of Le Mars, which offered $45,000; Lucky 47 Steel Works, of Le Mars, which submitted an offer of $10,000 and Kellen Excavating, of Le Mars, with an offer of $1,000.

A fourth offer verbally requested an additional 30 days "for proper analysis," according to the council agenda.

However, the person, group or business asking for the time was not identified.

United Methodist Church

United Methodist Church, of Le Mars, is located northeast of Kime and proposes to use the area for future growth. The building would be razed.

At a congregational meeting Feb. 12, members voted to build an addition to the church, according tothe Rev. John Battern.

The addition could be followed by the second phase of a project sometime in the future, which is a multipurpose room that would extend south from the present church building.

"It would absorb quite a bit of our (current) parking lot," Battern said.

The congregation would like to have the lots Kime is located on available for future expansion, future parking needs and to have some greenspace in the neighborhood, he explained.

"We're not interested in the building at all -- we're anxious to see it come down," he added.

The congregation has approximately 600 members and was founded as the campus congregation for Westmar.

Westmar had an affiliation with the Methodist Church until the college was merged with Teikyo University of Japan in the 1990s.

"Many people who went on to become pastors came to Westmar and this was their church during their schooling so we have a strong connection to Westmar and we want to see the properties used in a way that respects that heritage," Battern said.

The church offered to pay $45,000 for the property, but is also asking the city to pay the church for the demolition costs and be responsible for removing and disposing of asbestos in the building.

A letter attached to the purchase proposal indicated the cost of demolishing Kime is to be determined prior to sale and is approximately $95,000.

The church's interest in what happens to the Kime property extends beyond the offer to buy the building and the land known as Lots 7, 8 and 9 in Normal Park Addition and a vacated alley.

The congregation owns three lots to the south of the church building, which were purchased from the city a few years ago.

There is an easement to use a portion of that area as parking for the Kime building or whomever would have ownership of that property, Battern said.

"We don't want semis rolling in to the parking when we're having a funeral, for instance," he said.

Lucky 47 Steel Works

A business location is planned for the Kime building by Lucky 47 Steel Works, of Le Mars.

John Sailer of Lucky 47 Steel Works offers services to four corporate customers in Le Mars, Orange City and Sioux City, as well as several individual customers, according to a customer base and work outline submitted with the offer to purchase Kime.

After acquiring the Kime Science Center, Lucky 47 expects to expand its customer base to additional business customers, according to the purchase offer.

Emergency plant repairs, stainless steel fabrication, customized metal products, equipment installation and industrial door and metal rack installation are some of the services offered by the Le Mars business.

Lucky 47 would pay the city $10,000 for Kime and the city-owned campus land, plus cleanup cost for removal of mold.

A $58,000 mold cleanup cost Lucky 47 proposes to complete would be waived upon transfer of the property title, according to the proposal.

The business also requests an exemption from city property taxes for five years.

The Daily Sentinel was unable to contact Sailer.

Kellen Excavating

Kime would be demolished and the land would be re-developed, according to a Kellen Excavating proposal.

A $1,000 offer from Kellen Excavation states the buyer would demolish and salvage Kime to grade and re-sell lots upon completion.

Asbestos and any other hazardous materials would be removed and paid for by the city of Le Mars, according to the proposal from Del Kellen, manager of the business.

Demolition would occur on or before Oct. 1, 2013.

Upon completion, Kellen Excavating agrees to a minimum assessment for tax purposes of $60,000 for real estate and capital improvements which is $20,000 for each of the three lots proposed for the property.

Kellen's offer is the only one of the three proposals submitted to the city which has a time for acceptance.

If the offer is not accepted by the city on or before Feb. 24, it becomes void.

The Daily Sentinel was unable to contact Kellen.

What's next

A hearing to give the public a time to comment on the proposals is scheduled at the start of the Le Mars City Council meeting Tuesday.

The council's options are to authorize the sale to one of the three potential buyers, reject the bids, or extend the hearing to noon March 20 and allow additional offers to be submitted through noon March 16.

The city council last May set $50,000 as the asking price for the building scheduled to be demolished in 2014, if the structure is not converted to a new use.

Kime is one of three buildings on the former campus which has not been converted to a new use or demolished.

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The area is zoned for non-industrial. I think we owe it to the neighbors to keep it that way. That's why they choose to buy a house in that area.

-- Posted by goodolddays on Mon, Feb 20, 2012, at 7:14 PM

Why so cheap? Because it's taxpayer's property?

-- Posted by a777pilot on Tue, Feb 21, 2012, at 9:06 AM

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