SARCOXIE, Mo. —
Officials in Sarcoxie are looking for an entrepreneur with some vision, energy and at least $10,000 to buy and revitalize a historic building on the town square.
And here’s the kicker: The buyer will get back most of the purchase price if he restores the building to city specifications.
Sarcoxie Mayor Don Triplett said he and other members of the council have come up with the plan in an attempt to save the vacant building and enhance the appearance of the downtown square.
The two-story building at 509 Cross St. was constructed about 1890. It has been vacant for about three years. At one time, it housed a dentist’s office and most recently had been used as an apartment, the mayor said.
The city has owned the building for more than a year, after the former owner signed it over to the city when he could not afford to make the needed repairs.
“We contacted him because bricks from a west wall were falling onto a neighboring business. But he owned property damaged in the Joplin tornado, and he couldn’t afford to take on another project,” Triplett said.
After debating how the building might be preserved, Triplett said, the council decided to “sell” it to a new owner who will agree to renovate it. The city is offering the building for what will end up being a bargain price, he said, if the work is done to city specifications.
Plans approved by the council, the mayor said, will require a new owner to secure the building and address water leaks, make masonry repairs to an exposed west wall and to weatherize the building. Plans also call for the second-floor exterior, including windows and a metal facade, to be restored.
“We’ll give back 25 percent of the purchase price if the owner completes the first two repairs and another 50 percent for final repairs to the second floor,” Triplett said.
Triplett, who has been Sarcoxie mayor for the past six years, said the council plans to start in October a formal process in which proposals on the building will be accepted and reviewed. He said he is compiling information that will be used to advertise the building and that the council will hold a meeting in advance with potential purchasers to answer questions about the building and the proposal process.
“We’ll be asking them in their proposals to describe their plans to repair and use the building. We’ll pick the one that best preserves the structure and enhances the square. The bid price and the bidder’s ability to perform also will enter into the decision,” he said.
Sharon Burnett, longtime owner of Trendsetter, a hair salon next door to the building, likes the idea for the building repairs.
“I hope something happens; I don’t want it falling down on me,” she said.
Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie’s public works director, said the council wants to act “because once deterioration on a building goes so far, you can’t bring them back.”
Triplett said council members still talk about a building that collapsed eight years ago due to owner neglect.
“We said ‘never again,’ and we were worried this one could be next,” he said.
The mayor said the council also is working to encourage redevelopment of other buildings around the square.
Lawyer said one building has been purchased recently for redevelopment by Councilman Greg Seedorf. Another building, he said, has been bought by a former resident who wants to develop a restaurant there.
“She said her grandparents had a restaurant in the building, and she wants to fix it up like it was when they had it,” Lawyer said.
Triplett said the council is trying to encourage those kinds of improvements around the square and in other parts of town.
“More buildings on the square are being occupied. It’s slow going, but it’s going the right direction,” he said.
He said council members also have met with state officials to discuss a potential historic designation for the downtown district.
“We’ve also finished a pretty extensive expansion to our water and sewer system after our citizens approved bonds and a capital improvements sales tax,” Triplett said. “We’re optimistic about that.”
THE BUILDING is on the north side of the town square, the same side as the Gene Taylor Museum that honors the Sarcoxie native who was a longtime U.S. congressman from Missouri’s 7th District.