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Posted on Tue. Jan. 06, 2015 - 12:01 am EDT

Old downtown bus station could be prime redevelopment target

But minimum bid of $360,000 will be required at auction next month

Citilink closed its transfer station at Superior and Lafayette streets two years ago. Now the site, in an area earmarked for redevelopment as part of a larger riverfront improvement project, will offered next month to the highest bidder -- for a minimum bid of $360,000. (News-Sentinel file photos by Kevin Leininger)
Ken Housden, Citilink general manager
Click on image to view.
Located at a major downtown intersection just blocks from the rivers, government and corporate offices and new and existing housing, it could become a prime piece of real estate.
But if city officials or developers want to get their hands on Citilink's former bus station at Lafayette and Superior streets, they'll have to offer at least $360,000 -- and hope no one bids more at a public auction scheduled for Feb. 12.
Closed two years ago when Citilink opened its new $4 million transfer station at Calhoun and Baker streets, the 0.85-acre 1980s-era Superior Street site is part of the area to be highlighted in a comprehensive riverfront development plan that could be released as soon as this month. But even though the city or not-for-profit surrogates like the Downtown Development Trust might like to get their hands on the land at a bargain-basement price, that's just not possible, according to Citilink General Manager Ken Housden.
"There are so many strings attached (to selling the property) that it's like a ball of twine," Housden said. "It's 80 percent owned by the federal government, so we could give it to a federal agency. But any sale has to be based on an appraisal, and done at arm's length. The feds won't allow any sweetheart deals.
"Anyway, we need the money."
That's because the public transportation system will take ownership in February of four new 40-foot hybrid buses costing a total of about $600,000 -- meaning a successful auction could go a long way toward covering most ofthe cost. Most of Citilink's larger buses are 35 feet long and are often full, Housden said.
In part because of the federal red tape, it took two years to prepare the site for sale. The property is believed to be environmentally clean but will be sold "as is," Housden added -- meaning the new owner will be responsible for any unanticipated costs.
The auction will begin at 2 p.m. in Citilink's headquarters at 801 Leesburg Road. Bids must be increased in $10,000 increments and can be submitted in writing starting Feb. 11.
This is not the first time Citilink has put surplus real estate on the market.
Before building its new Baker Street station, Citilink had purchased land for that purpose on Barr Street across from the central YMCA. But when sufficient land for the project could not be acquired, Citilink auctioned its property to the Y for $413,500.


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