Former Workforce Development Building Sold - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Former Workforce Development Building Sold

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With a price tag of $594,000, the vacant former Workforce Development building has been sold.

But, it remains under city of Grand Island control.

The plan is to use the 1306 West 3rd Street location for their Utility Distribution Division.

A day after the 7-1 council vote to let the Utilities Department buy the building, Director Tim Luchsinger said the planning can begin. He expects the changes should be mostly cosmetic.

"The building just needs a little love here right now," said Luchsinger.

With more than 100 employees, Utilities is already using the building for department-wide meetings.

Right now, the division that will occupy the site is not housed under one roof.

"We hope this will improve our efficiencies as far as communication, letting people be able to be in one spot so if we have a contractor or another engineer or utility needs to talk with us, they can come to one spot," said Luchsinger.

He said this spot is ideal.

"It's in the center of town. It's across the tracks from our distribution construction crews," said Luchsinger.

But, not everyone wanted to make the decision Tuesday night. Councilman Kent Mann voted against the sale and City Administrator Mary Lou Brown asked the council to wait.

"I think there's a lot that needs to be talked about about space here at the city," Brown told the council.

She said some examples are plans for a back-up 911 center in the building or a space to house overflow from other departments.

The cost of keeping the building on the city's tax roll doesn't seem to a concern though.

"We've got sufficient cash reserves to where this really is not going to be a factor as far as impacting our reserves and certainly won't affect rates at all," said Luchsinger.

He said his department has long-term plans for the building so there's no rush to move in. Luchsinger said it could even be done in steps.

Although there's no timeline, he said he'd love to start the move by the end of this year.

The Hall County Board of Supervisors backed out of buying the same building in February, citing problems with the pipes.

Luchsinger said, with less people in the building than the county would have had, that shouldn't be an issue.

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