(ADAM VOGLER) [Order this photo]
Cape Girardeau began work on a project to renew the street last April, and the building at 229 Broadway sits in the middle of the city's efforts to spruce up the gateway to historic downtown and the new Isle Casino Cape Girardeau. Paid from the voter-approved Transportation Trust Fund, the Broadway improvements cost $4.7 million to date, according to city engineer Casey Brunke.
"Unfortunately, the federal building is the biggest negative on the Broadway streetscape," Rediger said Thursday.
He said at least six businesses have improved their properties in an enthusiastic effort to make Broadway a destination for residents and visitors.
During an auction process last spring that culminated in the former federal building being purchased for $325,015 by Magid Hemmasi of RDRH Holdings Inc. of Austin, Texas, the mayor said the building sitting empty would be a "worst-case scenario."
Cape Girardeau County considered purchasing the building and entering into a partnership to share space with Cape Girardeau municipal offices. The General Services Administration [GSA], which oversees the sale of all federally owned property, turned down proposed deals with the county for as much as $1.27 million. The GSA put the building up for auction and rejected bids as high as $625,000 before selling it in a second auction to Hemmasi in excess of the county's final $300,000 bid. The county was given a chance to purchase it at retail, but passed on the $525,000 asking price, citing needed costly improvements. The city and county also struggled to come to an agreement on how to share the space.
Hemmasi put the building back on the market at its current asking price, $1 million.
Thomas M. Meyer of Exit Reality of Cape Girardeau believes that price is reasonable considering the building's quality, which includes materials such as marble, oak and terrazzo. Unlike many commercial properties, he said, it was constructed for long-term use.
"It's built like a fortress," Meyer said. "It is still a very attractive building."
There have been a few serious inquiries in the last six months, Meyer said. Now that the election season and holidays have passed, he expects interest to pick up, especially with the approach of spring.
"Warmer weather enhances the market," Meyer said.
Along with interior and exterior photographs, Meyer is sharing with potential buyers images of the Broadway Corridor upgrade as seen from the roof of the building.
He said the improvements, including the renovation of adjacent properties, are a positive selling point.
Meyer, who has experience selling unique properties such as the former Louis J. Schultz School and the Marquette Hotel, anticipates a potential buyer would be looking for office space, but ideas "outside the box" would be welcome.
Rediger is less confident a buyer will be found near-term. He believes the asking price is too high and the building would be "monumental" to transform into something other than a government building. He expressed disappointment at the GSA's failure to make agreements that would have retained it for governmental use.
"It's been very, very discouraging," Rediger said.
Representatives for Hemmasi said he was not available for comment.
339 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO