Lowndes County is turning to private Realtors to sell the old Lowndes County Health Department on Military Road.
After a week of advertising, at a cost of about $200, the county”s solicitation for bids on the property was unfruitful.
Tuesday, the board voted to turn the sale of the property over to local Realtors. Harry Sanders, District 1 supervisor and board president, suggested the move, hoping a commission check might be incentive enough for Realtors to move the property quickly.
Don West, owner/broker at Coldwell Banker said the move is a smart one, but with current market conditions, supervisors should be prepared for the building to be on the market for a year or more.
“I think that”s a more logical move … The resources will be more widespread, with personal contacts,” West said, also noting there are eight to 10 local real estate agencies with an emphasis on commercial sales. They could have clients looking for such a space.
The old health department is 12,500 square feet and two stories. It was built in 1948, and the area is zoned for single-family housing. The health department was grandfathered into the ordinance. Other uses would have to go before the city of Columbus” building inspections department and possibly its planning commission.
The most pressing challenge, West said, will be the price tag.
“Buyers are out there looking for deals, so it”s going to have to be a deal that”s attractive enough for them to want to invest in it,” he said. “It”s an old building, and it”s probably going to need a lot of renovations.”
Also, its location “is not the most desirable,” nor is the parking, most of which is located in the back of the building.
“But if someone is looking to gain that kind of space, it could be an advantage to them,” West said.
Of late, Coldwell has been looking at the local market on a monthly basis and adjusting prices accordingly. The vast majority of Coldwell”s business comes from residential listings and sales.
“Right now, average days on market just for typical home sales has steadily gone up for years,” West said.
On average, homes stay on the market for more than 150 days.
“Commercial sales, it really all depends on what the need is for,” West said. “And we will have too look at the (possibility) that Columbus will come out of this recession quicker than other areas of the state because of all the industry.”
Even with the current real-estate trends, West believes supervisors have a better chance of selling the property if they allow local real estate companies to list it.
“It would give them a far better chance at marketing versus through the supervisors trying to do it (themselves),” he said.
After building a new health department in East Columbus last year, Lowndes County declared the building surplus, requesting proposals on the purchase of the building.
The county has had no formal appraisal on the building,
Lowndes County built a new $2.4 million health department at the corner of Lehmberg and Warpath roads. It opened in August. The building was paid for with interest from the sale of Baptist Memorial Hospital (for $30 million) to Baptist in 2006.
Prior to then, Baptist had rented the building. The county also received a $600,000 grant from the Mississippi Development Authority for the project. The land on which it sits cost $200,000.