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first on Property swap could save the former Bookends & Beans building

Posted: Wed, Feb 8, 2012 9:39 PM
The former Bookends & Beans building

Plans for a new eye clinic on East Water Street in Decorah might get a significant new twist.

At a meeting of the city's Finance Committee Wednesday night, Meehan & Schwartz Eye Care owner Brad Schwartz announced details of a property swap that would change the location of the proposed new eye clinic.  The original proposal had called for the demolition of the former Bookends & Beans building, to make room for a parking lot to serve a new eye care clinic to be built on the adjoining two vacant lots.

But Schwartz told city officials that an unnamed Decorah businessman has reached an agreement to buy the house on the other corner of the block--at 303 East Water Street.  The sale is awaiting a closing date.

If the property is purchase,d the new owner would trade that property for the Bookends & Beans property.  The former Bookends & Beans building would remain in use, while the house at 303 East Water Street would be torn down for a parking lot.

Schwartz told city finance committee members on Wednesday night that he's enthusiastic about the new location, saying if the facility is built, the community would win, the city would win and the business would win.

But he also talked about the large investment that will be needed to build the 9,555 square foot building and the long payback time for that investment.  Schwartz said an abatement schedule of the additional property taxes that would be collected after the property was improved would be helpful.  Such a plan would call for phasing in the additional property taxes over a ten year period.

City officials noted that such property tax abatements have been used before, in projects such as the new West Side Dental building.  They praised the plans for the property and promised to pursue the legal paperwork required to put such a tax abatement into effect.

Said city council member Gary Rustad of the proposed new eye care clinic, "This is just what we need."