Bessemer looks to unload some commercial properties
BESSEMER - The city of Bessemer is looking to promote and advertise some of its commercially zoned property with hopes of spurring some economic development in the area.
The Bessemer City Council unanimously approved the decision at its meeting Monday to move ahead with the potential sale of three properties; two downtown lots, one on Sellar Street and another on the corner of Sellar and Sophie streets, as well as an 80 acre parcel along U.S. 2.
City Manager Mike Uskiewicz said the city needs to make sure people are aware of what properties are available for purchase.
"Basically it's for economic development purposes," he said. "It's why we're selling the property. Plain and simple."
Uskiewicz said developers often aren't aware of what properties are out there, and the move to advertise what the city owns will establish better communication with potential buyers.
"The city does not need to own property as it has no value to us; we get no tax dollars from it," he said.
"These are properties that have reverted back to us because of foreclosures ... People need to know what is out there and who they would be working with."
Bessemer resident Jayne Wilczewski said the 80-acre parcel is frequently used by residents and that it has "enormous value to the city of Bessemer."
"Go there and stand up in the woods for a while and see how many people are up there enjoying the quiet and solitude," she told council members. "And then you can come back and say whether it's of use or not."
Wilczewski also questioned if the 80 acres, which is located to the east of Steiger's Ace Hardware and Home Center, included land set aside for a proposed bike trail.
Uskiewicz said city officials were aware of the trail's location and that it skirts the bottom edge of the proposed acreage and would not be part of the property for sale.
Mayor Butch Semmerling voiced his support of the move to advertise the properties.
"We need some development so people can have jobs and things will happen," Semmerling said.
Other concerns were raised regarding the sale of the land and whether the purchaser would actually develop it.
Uskiewicz told council they could stipulate a requirement that insures the onset and completion of construction within a timeframe. Therefore, purchasers of the property couldn't simply build a foundation or basement on the land and neglect to finish the project for the next 20 years.
"We won't sell on speculation," Uskiewicz said. "A building permit has to be taken out and within a year they have to follow up on that. Otherwise it reverts back to the city."