Deal reached to sell site for use as new auto parts store

By Jennifer Eisenbart

Staff writer

The City of Burlington Common Council put a triumphant twist on the winding saga of its former Department of Public Works facility Tuesday by agreeing to sell the building and a one-acre parcel as the site of a new auto parts store.

The deal, which clears the way for construction of an O’Reilly Auto Parts store next year, nets the city roughly what it expected to get for the property and preserves other parts of the property for use by ChocolateFest, the city’s annual marquee festival.

The purchase price for the property at 824 Milwaukee Avenue is $475,000 – about what the city had been looking at earlier this year when local businessman Craig Faust offered to buy the property.

That deal – and a competing offer submitted by local real estate broker Paul Mueller – fell through in February when members of the City Council expressed concerns about former Mayor Claude Lois being involved in the Faust offer and the potential impact Mueller’s offer would have on the adjacent ChocolateFest grounds.

It was a bitter saga that left hurt feelings on both sides of the debate.

Mayor Bob Miller said he was relieved to finally get the old building sold – especially in light of the way the deal fell through in February.

“We can go ahead now and get it torn down and make it commercially viable and get it back on the tax rolls,” said Miller. “It’s another eyesore off Milwaukee Avenue.”

The City Council met in closed session Tuesday to discuss the offer from Greene County Realty Company out of Missouri following the regular open session of Common Council Tuesday night. The council reconvened after the closed session to approve the sale of the property.

Miller said city staff has been in discussions regarding the recent deal for about six weeks, and that the council has been aware of the offer. Because such deals involve competitive bargaining, they are an exception from the state’s public meetings requirements.

The council saw the basics of the deal about a month ago, Miller said, with the details yet to be settled.

That happened Tuesday night. In a rare show of solidarity on the subject, the council voted unanimously to approve the sale of the property.

Miller said the property would become an O’Reilly Auto Parts store. There is no projected opening of the store, but closing on the property sale is set for June 22, 2012.

Miller said there are site surveys and soil samples to be done, as well as getting Plan Commission approval for the site before construction begins.

The sale of the land was incorporated into the ChocollateFest lease that was agreed on in the spring.

“We made sure we built into the lease that this land would be sold some day,” Miller said. “That’s not an issue. That’s been taken care of already.”