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Federal building's future looms large over Broadway

Friday, January 11, 2013

(Photo)
The main courtroom in the former Federal Building, 339 Broadway in Cape Girardeau.
(ADAM VOGLER) [Order this photo]
It has been 226 days since the former federal building in Cape Girardeau was put on the market. While Mayor Harry Rediger worries the building will blight the newly improved Broadway Corridor, its real-estate broker remains optimistic that a buyer will be found.

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."

(Photo)
Wood bookshelves line an office in the former Federal Building, 339 Broadway in Cape Girardeau.
(ADAM VOGLER)
"That's my biggest fear and it's coming to fruition," Rediger said Wednesday.

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."

(Photo)
A holding cell in the former Federal Building, 339 Broadway in Cape Girardeau.
(ADAM VOGLER)
Comparable new construction would cost $800 to $900 per square foot, he said. Based on the 44-year-old building's 54,400-square-foot finished size -- not including the basement and penthouse areas -- the asking price is just above $18 per square foot.

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.

(Photo)
A hallway in the former Federal Building, 339 Broadway in Cape Girardeau.
(ADAM VOGLER)
The building is being maintained and heated to be ready for viewing. Though a buyer may choose to make cosmetic changes, the building is structurally sound and ready for use.

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.

salderman@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

339 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO


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why doesnt the mayor just buy it.

-- Posted by bagman75 on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 2:43 AM

If it was a buddy of of the so called city fathers they would jump all over the deal.

-- Posted by ssinteriors on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 6:58 AM

So Tom while is working to make it happen...the mayor is trashing it ! I would rather have Tom succeed...the mayor has no positive promotion of our City, or he would bring in solutions to help .

-- Posted by CB1 on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 8:01 AM

The federal building is far from the worse building on the street - how about the Esquire and the 800 block of Broadway? I always wonder why the Esquire has not been condemed - maybe someone out there knows.

-- Posted by Sunday on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 8:10 AM

The Federal building is NOT the blight on the Mayor's "Broadway Corridor" project. The blight is a mayor and a city council who cannot seem to get anything positive accomplished for the City of Cape, despite all their blathering. The Casino is the worst idea to hit this town in a long list of bad ideas. I hope they all get kicked out of office.

-- Posted by dmt49 on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 8:40 AM

I agree that the building isn't a "blight". However, it certainly would have been better to have it occupied by the county than sitting empty while some out of town buyer waits to cash in, and then you really dont know what's going to be in the building as a business. And it is definitely overpriced! If it weren't, there would have been a buyer before now.

-- Posted by wuzthinking on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 10:24 AM

There are far worse eye-soars on Broadway than the former Federal Bldg. Take a look between Pacific & Sprigg. Mayor needs to update his eye prescription!

-- Posted by Kadybug on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 11:01 AM

Why don't you move the Cape police dept. in it. They need more room and this buildung should do it.Sure it's going to cost some to fix it up, but it would be put to good use.

-- Posted by drummz54 on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 12:38 PM

Now that it is owned by a private company instead of the federal government, the county or city could take it by eminent domain.

-- Posted by docksider21 on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 1:08 PM

"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"

So if the county was willing previously to make a deal for 1.27 million as the article, suggests, why didn't they just buck up the $625,000 to Hemmasi instead of complaining about it not being occupied now??

-- Posted by gazza33 on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 2:13 PM

This building would make a good Police Headquarters. The owner would more than likely come down on the price.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 2:48 PM

The Esquire is hands down worse what happened to the county buying the building this is so cape would hope Tom could find a buyer

-- Posted by falcon2412 on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 3:54 PM

I'm amazed at the incompetence of the GSA. No doubt they gave themselves bonuses for moving this property. It is worthy of heads rolling, but career government employees are exempt from normal scrutiny.

-- Posted by yy4me on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 4:07 PM

This building is not worth the $1 million. It seems as though some people are out of touch with this area, and I'm disappointed in Mr. Meyer that he has not informed the owner about this area. First of all, Cape does not have a huge demand for office space. Cape is not a regional headquarters for any business that needs office space to provide marketing support to businesses. I do believe the potential exists for some occupants of this building, if say the price would be reduced to $30K or so: 1) Church - Cape is well known for its religious support, and a non-denominational church would fit well here; 2) Police or Law enforcement outpost - Certainly Cape does not need a new police station, but perhaps it can be shared as a branch with other law enforcement agencies (ie: marshall, Highway Patrol); 3) Business incubator - Perhaps the town and the college can go in together and lease the space out to start up businesses; 4) Doctor's offices, laboratories; 5) Law or Accountant offices - with the ultimate removal of county offices back to Jackson, this may not work as well, but is a thought anyway. 6) Headquarters of an airplane manufacturing company - ok Just kidding here and hopefully the town will never go there again! I really wish the federal government did not feel the need to build that new courthouse.

-- Posted by Beaker on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 6:53 PM

I am more concerned about the horrible parking and width of the streets than a building that is not an eye sore. Wait until the streets have to be re done because there is not enough room for parking and to make turns

-- Posted by Thelegend on Sat, Jan 12, 2013, at 3:16 AM

Beaker....the $1M is a starting point....and Meyer knows that it is, given as long as he has been in business. You must also be a Doctor to think you know it all....and a Democrat if you want a businessman to just give it away !

-- Posted by CB1 on Sat, Jan 12, 2013, at 9:38 AM


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