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Auburn councilman raises concerns over proposal to designate building blighted

POSTED: June 23, 2014 12:48 p.m.

A potential renovation aimed at creating a multi-purpose facility in Auburn is drawing some kickback.

Councilman Bob Vogel said last week that he has concerns about designating the R&R Building as blighted. City officials were asked last week to assess the property as blighted as a condition of applying for a $500,000 grant from the Department of Community Affairs.

The estimated $1.3 million project involves renovating the building into a venue that includes office areas, event spaces and a café.

The area around the building was designated as blighted in 2012, but the application requires the building is specifically declared for having a "blighting" influence on nearby properties, City Planner Larry Lucas said at last week’s City Council Workshop.

Vogel said if the property is determined to be blighted then it could negatively affect surrounding property values.

"Somebody is going to come in and purchase (a property) and because you’ve said it’s blighted then they’ll say ‘I’m not going to pay that cost,’" he said.

Lucas said the vacant property fits the state’s definition of blight, and that he’d get feedback from other communities that have dealt with a similar situation.

The term blight has not been easy to define, Mayor Linda Blechinger said.

"(Blight is) a word that’s been debated in the state House and state Senate for a couple years," she said.

Technology

The city could also soon begin accepting proposals for a technology service provider.

City leaders are planning to make a decision before their VC3 contract expires in August. Last summer city officials decided to hold off on spending $30,000 to transition to a new provider

City Administrator Ron Griffith said last week that six companies have shown interest in bidding for the city’s IT services.

An assessment by Lockstep Technology Group said that VC3 does a good job providing support; however their price tag is higher than some other companies.

Lockstep also made recommendations that included replacing some devices and hardware, and updating firewall protection.

 

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