Once again, city officials are seeking a developer to renovate the distinguished-looking hulk of a apartment building at 628 E. Franklin Av., but this time they even sound optimistic.
The just-released request for proposals from the city's development agency is the fourth time stretching over more than a dozen years that the city has sought a developer for a building that went tax-forfeit around 2000.
The latest solicitation for the building has the same selection criteria and same asking price of $75,000 for the building as the last solicitation last summer. That one was designed to test whether the housing market had recovered sufficiently to attract developers but the only proposal didn't meet the agency's feasibility test. It also sought a subsidy that the agency didn't consider warranted.
Cherie Shoquist, a city development project coordinator, said she's optimistic that two private and one nonprofit developers will submit proposals.
The fully gutted 1904 building sits in a prime location on Franklin near an entrance to Interstate 35W and Park and Portland avenues. It was built as luxury apartments, but has been vacant for 19 years. One handicap is that the building has only five parking spaces.
The city said it's seeking proposals for either commercial or housing ownership or rental use of the building, with priority to commercial or market-rate housing.
The property got caught up in the savings and loan debacle of the late 1980s. It went tax-forfeit twice. It went into foreclosure, and its ownership was disputed between two developers in court. The city had awarded development rights to the building to a Phillips-area developer, but he brought in another developer as partner. The city eventually bought the building from one of them through an intermediary nonprofit.