Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Tracie Mitchell
Staff Writer 

Fate of abandoned building still unknown


April 29, 2017

THERMOPOLIS – During the Main Street Thermopolis meeting Thursday evening the fate of the abandoned building at 518 Arapaho, was briefly discussed but no decision was made since there was no quorum.

The building built in 1917, last used as a furniture warehouse for Fair Deal Furniture, has been abandoned for an unknown number of years and the current owners have agreed to donate the building to Main Street Thermopolis.

Members of the community representing Main Street Thermopolis, the town council, Hot Springs County Commissioners, local media and downtown building owners along with Linda Klinck of Wyoming Main Street and Linda Kiisk of the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office took a tour of the building April 5.

When the building was toured, Thermopolis Hot Springs Economic Development Company CEO and Main Street Thermopolis Board member Amanda Moeller stated that the tour was to make sure that the building was something that Main Street Thermopolis would want to take on and that there is specific money for main street organizations to do projects like that. Her opinion after the architect summary report from Linda Kiisk of the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office and additional findings is that the project may just be too big for Main Street Thermopolis to take on.

“I am under the impression that Main Street is not going to be able to do all this. Just the liens from the town and the county alone are crowding $20,000. A lot of that is back taxes and interest. The town for example, the principal is a little over $3,000 but with all of the interest that has accumulated it’s over $10,000 now. It’s kind of a scary prospect. If you’ve got to pay that much money to get the building, it’s hard to say how much it’s actually going to cost to renovate, what the return on the investment is going to be. So we are kind of up in the air until I can get all the pieces to the puzzle together,” she stated. “Nobody wants to see a deteriorating building in the middle of downtown and nobody really wants to take responsibility for that building. The town and the county are not willing to step in and do something with it. I think that everybody is really appreciative that Main Street is taking the bull by the horns but at the same time I don’t know that it is a project. It might be something that we can help facilitate, but probably not something that we can take care of. We just don’t have that kind of funding to even get started,” she added.

In addition to the back taxes and liens there are also some issues with the bank which foreclosed on the building. According to Moeller, the bank did not take back the property when they foreclosed, so the building still belongs to the original owners. “That’s really a giant mess, a terrible mess. The county treasurer and I sat down yesterday [Thursday] for about an hour just trying to sort through, how does this all work. I imagine there are going to be several more meetings with the stakeholders to say what’s the best way to go about this and I think that the town, the county, the bank, everybody has really been very open and wanting to make sure that this goes smoothly,” she said. “Our county treasurer, she’s trying to be very very helpful and has been but she said we’ve never experienced anything like this in Hot Springs County. We are setting precedence a little bit. It’s going to be a long process, I don’t foresee this being resolved any time soon with all of the hoops that are necessary to even find before we can jump through them,” she added.

According to the architect summary report salvaging the building is recommended. “It is recommended that Main Street Thermopolis consider salvaging the building. By making efforts to preserve the two structures [which are connected], in spite of their current condition, the integrity of the “Main Street” experience is maintained and even enhanced. In addition, the structures contribute to the community by providing uninterrupted commercial activity along the street. By keeping the structures occupied, the vitality of the street is also preserved,” the report said.

The report stated that to preserve the building several actions need to be taken. The roof and walls need to be stabilized to prevent collapse, all debris needs to be removed from inside, following safety procedures to prevent exposure to chemicals and airborne hazards and the roof, walls and windows need to be sealed.

The issue will be discussed further at the next Main Street Thermopolis meeting May 25.


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