MADRAS, OR -- The City of Madras is working to purchase a rundown building on the south end of its downtown. Community Development Director Nick Snead says the old Masonic Lodge was built in 1951 but has fallen into disrepair in recent years. "The roof is not keeping the water out by any means; in fact, it’s ruining the wonderful wooden floors on the inside and it’s in a condition that really needs a lot of help."
Snead believes all that work is still cheaper than tearing down the building, which would need to include asbestos abatement, "While the building in and of itself may not be all that valued, in long term, the long term interest of the city is to see this property developed into a higher and better use that adds to our downtown area and community." He admits that comes at a price. "About $30,000 to acquire it, $4,600 to remove the oil tank that served the heating system; for asbestos assessment and abatement, we’re looking at $10,000-$20,000. So, when you put it all together, we may be in the $50,000 to $60,000 range; perhaps a little bit more if we want to repair the roof and preserve the building." He expects the purchase agreement to be finalized in the next week.
The city isn't likely to recoup the cost if and when it sells the building, "In our mind, it’s not necessarily an endeavor we’re looking to make money off of. Rather, we’re looking to address an issue with the property and building that the private sector isn’t easily able to deal with." Snead says urban renewal programs make it much easier for the city to work at a loss, and the private sector has already found the project cost-prohibitive, "The Masonic Lodge had some interest. [But] they had some challenges dealing with a lot of the environmental issues. Ultimately, they weren’t able to sell the property."
This will be the third property purchased by the Madras Redevelopment Commission, but the first with a structure. While there aren't any specific plans yet, Snead says it’s a prime location for a retail business, office or restaurant.