County Manager Jerry Cooper confirmed Friday the county will soon solicit bids for replacing some masonry and marble, as well as repairing or replacing windows on the turn-of-the-century landmark, in an effort to make it “more attractive to a buyer.”
Cherokee is trying to sell the former county administration building after Westbridge Partners pulled out of the sale in late October because of delays from the Internal Revenue Service in getting historic preservation tax credits.
Before that, the county gave Headley Construction a contract for $179,000 to pull away the aged, stucco facade from the historic building, bringing a look back to downtown Canton the city hadn’t seen since the 1960s. Beneath the facade was the original brick and wooden windows, which had recently only been seen in photographs of the building.
Commissioner Harry Johnston said Friday removing the stucco also revealed damage to the building that no one had been aware of before.
But, he said the decision to solicit bids to fix those issues is only exploratory at this point.
“We’ve not necessarily said we’re going to proceed with this,” said Johnston, who represents downtown Canton. “If (the bids are) too high, that’ll be the reason we’re not going to do it.”
Like the county manager, Johnston said the broad goal is to improve the chances that the county will be able to sell the building. But, he added, the bids will have to be reviewed so the county can answer some questions about if the repairs make sense, especially, “If the building is worth $1.8 million as is … and it costs $200,000 to make these repairs, will it be worth $2 million?”
The building may well be worth at least $1.8 million, considering Westbridge Partners was at one time willing to pay that, although the company appears to be not interested now, Johnston said.
But Johnston said the county had recently received encouraging news about the availability of historic preservation tax credits in Georgia, “which are pretty generous,” and he hopes will increase the chances of a sale.