Repairing old CVB building would be too costly, Cape mayor says

Friday, February 10, 2012

EDITOR'S NOTE: A commercial real estate agent was originally misidentified. The name has been corrected.

Mayor Harry Rediger wouldn't mind if a city-owned downtown Cape Girardeau building were flattened, he acknowledged Thursday, especially considering repairs would cost at least 10 times more than bringing in a wrecking ball.

The future of the 56-year-old former Convention and Visitors Bureau building at 100 Broadway came into question with the release of the city's capital improvement program last month. The program document lists the building -- perhaps best known as the former First National Bank -- as an immediate need for demolition.

While the project is listed as unfunded, the report says it would cost $1.2 million to bring the building up to code but only $100,000 to demolish it.

That's one of the reasons Rediger favors tearing down the building, which sits on the northwest corner of Broadway and Main Street, he said.

"That's going to be a pretty valuable corner in the future because of the casino traffic," Rediger said. "It's a cornerstone of downtown and Old Town Cape. If the right development comes along, I would love to see it become a development."

Rediger noted that Isle of Capri predicts that when its casino opens later this year, an additional 1 million new visitors will come to the city annually -- and many of them would drive right past that location.

Rediger said city officials have had early talks about the future of the building. He agreed that in the short term, the building could help out with downtown parking needs. The building has its own lot and tearing down the building could create spaces, he said.

But he doesn't envision the spot being used as parking in the long term. The city, at some point, he said, might be interested in selling the property or leasing it to a developer. But any development would have to ensure that an acceptable amount of parking remain, he said.

"But that building is on our radar screen," Rediger said.

The building opened as a First National Bank in 1956 and was later a Boatmen's Bank. It also served as an art gallery before the Convention and Visitors Bureau moved there in 1997.

Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Chuck Martin said they moved the tourism agency out of that building a decade later because it had fallen into such disrepair. The building has sat vacant since then.

"The problems down there were numerous," he said.

One example, he said, came when leaky pipes caused a dropped ceiling to cave in. Inspection Services director Tim Morgan said the building needs a new roof and that he was certain there were several other code issues, although an inspection has not been done in some time, he said.

At least one commercial real estate agent said Thursday that he agreed wholeheartedly with the mayor's plan to raze the building and get a new development in there.

The property, without the building, would be a good place for a shopping center or some other type of development that would benefit from the traffic the casino promises.

"Every town has a Broadway and a Main Street," Tom Meyer said. "Everybody from out of town gravitates to those streets -- they identify with them."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

100 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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