County enters due diligence period for possible purchase of CB Fox Building. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
County enters due diligence period for possible purchase of Reel Deal Bldg. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
Los Alamos County owning two properties that formerly held beloved local businesses, CB Fox and Reel Deal Theater, inched closer to reality Tuesday night.
During its regular meeting, Los Alamos County Council approved 6-1, Councilor Katrina Martin was opposed, to enter into a purchase agreement with the current owners of the properties, which is Tigard Pacific RE, LLC and Trinity Los Alamos, LLC. Both are limited liability companies based in Colorado.
In the purchase agreement, the County will enter a 90-day due diligence period and put down $25,000 to assess the viability of this opportunity. During this period, the County will determine whether to proceed with the purchase, County Manager Harry Burgess said.
The due diligence can be extended 30 days for an additional $10,000, he said. If the council decided not to purchase the properties, the money will revert back to the County. If Council decides to go through with the sale then the $25,000 or $35,000 will go towards the purchase price of both the buildings, which totals $4 million.
Burgess added that the County doesn’t have a specific usage in mind for these properties but multiple options have been and will continue to be identified.
Additionally, several issues such as what remodeling is needed for both buildings as well as parking at each location will need to be addressed. While there are a number of unknowns, Burgess said the County has had an interest in these properties.
“This has been an area we have been looking at for a variety reasons to support local businesses,” he said. “In fact, I was in conversations in at least one of these purchases with the original owner for the County’s consideration for purchase before it got bought … we didn’t move quick enough … so we have been looking at these properties for a while. They do have some ancillary, potential benefits. Everything from the location to the potential access for parking as well as County uses that have been discussed over time. All of which would need to go through some sort of process …”
“If the County buys these buildings and does some remodeling to them, is there anything that would stop the County from selling portions of the building,” Councilor Pete Sheehey asked. “Can we sell portions of those buildings and retain ownership of the rest?”
Burgess said the buildings could be subdivided but steps would need to be taken to make it possible.
Councilor Antonio Maggiore wondered if rather than purchasing both buildings, the County could just buy one.
Burgess said the purchase agreement is for both properties.
Maggiore added that he felt purchasing the property that was formerly the Reel Deal would be better than buying the building that used to be CB Fox.
“I think one of these buildings makes an awful lot of sense to buy and one of them makes a whole lot less sense to buy,” Maggiore said. “I think the Reel Deal Theater, both for the quality of the construction of the building and the potential multiple uses for the community … as well as that building already being handicapped complaint and ADA complaint, makes it a very sensible piece to pursue. CB Fox – I have more problems with CB Fox, to be honest. I think this argument of buying CB Fox because it gives us a controlling stake and a piece of downtown, I understand that. I also feel if that is what we really want in downtown this is not the right piece of property to buy.”
Martin said she felt neither property should be purchased. The sale price is an issue, she explained.
“I really can’t get past this $4 million price … that is more than this developer paid for them,” she said. “To me this just smacks of not only a bail out but almost an incentive for a business deal that this man regrets. It is very clear that if he was able to use these properties as he has intended, in a way he thought was profitable, he would retain them and I have no problem with the County acquiring these properties; I think there’s a lot of potential for both of them … however, I think we should at most pay him what he paid for them and not more …”
Martin wasn’t the only one who opposed the deal.
During public comment, Councilor-elect David Reagor said he did not support the purchase.
“I don’t really see in the grand thing how this serves the County to step into the middle of essentially a real estate flip that is going on,” he said. “The current owner has to decide where he is going and how that benefits the community and maybe he has something better that benefits the community and without a plan of our own it certainly is something we just don’t get involved in.”
Council Chair Sara Scott pointed out that in her discussions with the community regarding the downtown, she hears that the downtown should offer more – more amenities, restaurants, retail and entertainment. The County purchase of these buildings could potentially provide some options for addressing these desires, she said.
“I hear over and over again from folks in the community that we want a real downtown,” Scott said. “We want some amenities, we want some restaurants, we want some shops … so I look at these two building as inter-related, really … complementary. The current Reel Deal property would be an option for amenities for people to enjoy, and that bring people downtown and helps businesses.”
“The CB Fox property could help retain or grow new businesses,” Scott added. “We hear from businesses that want to stay operating, that want to stay in business, that want to stay in Los Alamos … they need to have a place that they can own and control the costs … I hear from businesses that want to be viable but are really concerned about the rent situation and the cost-benefit situation …”
James O’Donnell, the former co-owner of the Reel Deal Theater, said the options for the property are limitless.
“We just have no limit to our imagination with how we can serve the community with that building,” he said.