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Lenowisco to sell office building, property to HMG

April 2nd, 2007 11:51 pm by CLIFFORD JEFFERY



DUFFIELD - By the end of next week, the Lenowisco Planning District may no longer own its own offices.


The Lenowisco board of directors voted Monday evening to sell the office building and about 2.5 acres of land to Holston Medical Group for the proposed development of a clinic, diagnostic center and electronic records facility.


"Back in October, HMG announced they would be coming to Duffield," said Lenowisco Executive Director Ron Flanary. "We celebrated, then I got a call from Holston Medical that they would like to buy our building."


The Lenowisco executive board met in closed session to discuss HMG's request.


An appraisal of the 30-year-old Lenowisco building and the property was done, along with adjacent property belonging to the Scott County Public Service Authority.


The assessed value of the Lenowisco property came back as $740,000, and that of the PSA, which has a shop building and equipment shed, as $300,000.


Flanary talked to Scott County officials about HMG's need for land.


"We asked if they could work with just our parking lot," Flanary said.


That option would have given the medical group about half of the Lenowisco land, but they said they felt the building worked well with their plans.


Flanary asked the board of directors to vote to sell the property at the appraised price with the assurance that there are several routes they could take for acquiring a new facility.


"We could look at leasing or buying," he said.


Under an agreement with HMG, Lenowisco offices could remain in the building for up to three years, paying $25,000.


"If we collect interest on the $740,000, then we could essentially be staying here for free," Flanary said.


When first presented with the offer, Flanary said he wondered where his offices could relocate.


For a time, he considered moving to a different county, but Duffield is centrally located and the most acceptable to the current staff.


"We've been exploring, along with the Scott County EDA, a piece of property (behind the Lenowisco building) on the hill," he said.


The EDA planned to build a structure on the hill that could house HMG, Lenowisco and training and conference space.


Lenowisco could move into leasing space in that building, or the board could decide to build something in the industrial park, he said.


Buying a building would allow Lenowisco to remain autonomous, Flanary said. With the $740,000 from the sale, Flanary said he felt confident they could build a new structure that would be bigger than the current office space, and they would still have a little left over.


Flanary said if they build a steel industrial building, they could have a building, with a nice facade completed within a year.


Board member D.J. Barker of Lee County asked if they should have blueprints done and a firm figure for a new building before proceeding with the sale.


About 5,600 square feet, the current Lenowisco building cost about $100,000 to build in the early 1970s, Flanary said. He believes they could build a new one, bigger than the current office building, for about $600,000.


"Really, any estimate you are going to get is useless. You have to get a bid and a contract before you really know what it will cost," said board member Ben Allen of Wise County.


"If you don't sell, you run the risk of standing in the way of what is, potentially, a major regional development," Flanary said.


Flanary said Lenowisco may have support from state officials to build a new office. Part of the deal includes the option for a free tract of land.


Talking to state Sen. William Wampler, R-Bristol, Flanary said he didn't want to be in an RV driving up and down Highway 23.


"(Wampler) said we would have his support," Flanary said. "I have reason to feel optimistic we'll come out on top on this.


"But if we make this decision tonight, like a boll weevil, we've got to find a home."


The board of directors voted unanimously to sell the building and land for $740,000 with the understanding they are not going anywhere immediately. Lenowisco will be in talks too with the EDA to obtain land on the hill behind the industrial park.


Flanary expects the deal with HMG to be completed early next week.


No deal has been reached on the PSA land next to the Lenowisco office.


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