Council Plans Hearing on Broadway Store

By Seth Daniel

In an effort to ramp up the downtown overhaul, City Manager Tom Ambrosino submitted a request to the City Council to hold a hearing and move forward with an eminent domain taking of the Salvation Army Store at 440 Broadway.

Ambrosino told the Record a few weeks ago that he planned to pursue the idea, but wasn’t completely certain of it at the time. Since then, certainly has been stamped.

“The City’s decision to pursue this taking was not done without considerable thought,” he wrote the Council. “It is not generally my desire to acquire private property in this aggressive manner, notwithstanding important public needs. However, in this case, I feel the decision is necessary…With the recent closing of the Salvation Army store and its expected sale, the City has no control over what new use might occupy the space and no way of ensuring that such new use is not even more detrimental to the City’s Broadway improvement efforts.”

Ambrosino told the Council on Monday night that he has recently received an appraisal of the property and found that, as of May 4, the fair market value is $1.34 million.

He said that he hopes the City can enhance that section of the downtown with a newly reconstructed or renovated building that will include commercial space on the first floor and some affordable residential units on the upper floors.

He suggested the City use its Free Cash account, which boasts some $34 million, to pay for the taking.

The Council moved the request to use Free Cash to a Second Reading for the next meeting, where they will likely act on it. They also called for a public hearing on the Order of Taking at the June 19 meeting.

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