Local Realtor Implores Council to Repair or Demolish Old Booker T. Washington Building

On May 1, 2018 the City Council recognized “Victorian Village” as a new tax directive project of the Forney Economic Development Corporation, and agreed to sell a 5-acre tract of land located at the corner of Chestnut and Main Streets to the Garrett Moore Company.

Council members unanimously approved a Chapter 380 Economic Development Agreement between the City and the Garrett Moore Company which provides economic incentives in the amount of the fair market value ($510,000) of the City’s property, to allow Garrett Moore to purchase the property for the development of a Victorian style retail and commercial complex.

The office space development will consist of four 3 – 5,000 square foot buildings, modeled after the Victorian homes along Swiss Avenue in Dallas. The Garrett Moore Company will be obligated to develop the site as a Victorian-style retail and commercial complex with office space available and construction is required to commence within 180 days of closing on the sale of the property.

 

Several weeks after receiving City Council approval to sale the property to the Garrett Moore Company, Forney EDC Executive Director Warren Ketteman requested permission from the EDC Board of Directors to relocate the EDC office, currently and freely located within City Hall, into office space located within Victorian Village upon its completion.

Director Ketteman explained that due to the overcrowding of employees at city hall he felt it would be a good idea to move the EDC office into Victorian Village therefore anchoring the proposed retail/office space complex with a monthly EDC funded lease agreement.

The EDC Board of Director’s agreed with Ketteman’s idea, and requested that he add the monthly rental obligation to the EDC’s currently unapproved 2018-2019 Fiscal Year Budget.

The property where the new Victorian Village it’s proposed to be built is located directly across the street from the City of Forney owned property, referred to as the old “Booker T. Washington school” property.

The Booker T. Washington school building was purchased by the City Council approximately six year ago under the leadership of former Mayor Darren Rozell, in a specific effort to “save a piece of Forney’s history”.

According to the closing documents for the Booker T. Washington building, former City Manager Brian Brooks did not have the property inspected before it was purchased and subsequently it was discovered that the building is full of asbestos and almost totally unsalvagable.

  

During the Tuesday night July 11, 2018 city council meeting local realtor Ryan Kile addressed the council about the current condition of the Booker T. Washington property, and about how the dilapidated building is devaluing the adjacent neighborhood.

Accurately describing the current development of the intersection of Chestnut and Main Streets, Ryan Kile said “I’m here tonight to hopefully be the squeaky wheel for a property the city has owned for nearly six years now, the old Booker T. Washington building at 702 East Main Street.”

Kile said “The city bought that building almost six years ago and from the point that the city bought it, it’s done nothing but decline. The most recent Band-Aid that you put on it was to put up an eight foot chain link fence around it. So you pull into that neighborhood and it looks like an old prison with boarded up windows.”

Explaining he said “I know that there has been a feasibility study done, and you guys, a previous council, found that the expense to do anything with that building is probably more than what the use of it could be. So I’m here tonight to request that the council start an action plan to make a plan for that building. Wither you’re going to save all of it, part of it or demolish it, whatever it might be.”

In closing Kile stated “So that with the new development coming in across the way, it will be presented in a much nicer way as you enter that neighborhood. It will look much better. All I’m requesting tonight is that you start talking about what to do with that building, so that it doesn’t continue to sit, because it’s getting more dilapidated every day that it just sits there.”

Performance Agreement between Forney EDC and Garrett Moore Company

 

Written by: Denise Bell

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