Marquette on the market

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Marquette Tower and Marquette Centre in downtown Cape Girardeau, the focus of a much-heralded restoration and preservation job supported by tax credits, is on the market.

Prost Builders of Jefferson City purchased the Marquette Tower, a former hotel originally opened in 1928, for a reported $350,000 in 2002. At the time, the building was in such bad shape that city leaders had at one point ordered it to be sold or torn down.

Renovation of the structure in the 300 block of Broadway. which is on the national register of historic places, cost an estimated $6 million. The expense was supported by a combination of state and federal tax credits for historic preservation and environmental remediation.

Renovation of the 11,162-square-foot Marquette Centre at 221 N. Fountain St. was also supported by state tax credits.

Prost is asking $4.5 million for the Marquette Tower, Realtor Tom Meyer said Monday. The Marquette Centre is for sale for $1.4 million.

Prost "is a developer," Meyer said to explain why the property is on the market. "You don't fall in love with your investments. He has got other things working through Missouri, and it is within his time frame where he sells it and moves on."

The building is about 80 percent occupied, with state offices taking up a good portion of the space, and a restaurant tenant in the Broadway storefront. The Marquette has 66,117 square feet.

The sale would end the story of the building's renaissance. The hotel closed in 1971; it remained vacant from 1981, when a piano store at ground level closed, until 2004 when the renovation was complete.

The crisis came in 2000, when the city gave then-owner Carol Bullock 120 days to repair or sell the property or face demolition. The sale dragged into 2002.

"The city and myself and the sellers were continually working to maintain its presence until we had a buyer," Meyer said.

The Marquette Centre is the former Southeast Missouri State University printing plant. The building has been extensively renovated, Meyer said, but has not been divided into individual offices.

"It is ready for that," he said. "There are two floors and a basement and it is all open. It has a loft appearance and the new owner can come in and partition it."

Historic preservation tax credits from the state of Missouri can defer up to 25 percent of qualifying renovation costs. The credits can be used with federal credits of 20 percent.

The credits impose no restrictions on how long a property owner must own the building before or after claiming the credits, which are issued when a project is complete.

The push to market the Marquette has already begun, Meyer said. He's sent packets of information to large industries and hospitals in the region, sent notices to obtain listings in the state's major metropolitan areas and will add the property to his commercial real estate Web site.

"It is just starting to get the ball rolling now," Meyer said.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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