Lewis County Commissioners are moving forward with plans to buy a bar.
No, county employees will not be slinging cold cans to residents if the purchase of the Star Tavern is finalized.
Instead, the plan is to eventually flatten the building for parking. The property is identified in the county’s Capital Facilities Plan to improve the county’s campus. The plan includes constructing a new building just north of the Lewis County Health Building to house several offices to relocate some off-campus services, Lewis County Central Services Director Michael Strozyk said.
The initial plans call for an about-80,000-square-foot building, but that size could change. The rough cost estimate of the new building is about $30 million, Strozyk said, adding that the figure was calculated a few years ago. The health building will be demolished when the new building is complete and a courtyard will be built in its place.
The county owns the properties east and south of the tavern and uses them for parking. The area the tavern occupies will be used for needed parking for employees and the public doing business at the courthouse.
“We don’t need the Star Tavern for the building; we already have the land for that,” Strozyk said. “We need it for employee parking and customer parking … because as we build the new building we lose parking, so we need to make sure we incorporate additional parking.”
The county approached Daryl Lund, who owns the building housing the bar and has two apartments upstairs, about three years ago.
Lund, who bought the building in 1998, wasn’t ready to sell at that time, but recently changed his mind.
He said he’s ready to retire and has some of his other properties for sale as well.
The county is purchasing the building for the appraised value, $255,000, plus closing costs.
“I didn’t think it’d do any good to ask a crazy price, like some people would,” Lund said. “... You gotta just be reasonable.”
Strozyk said after Lund approached the county about selling, the process moved forward quickly.
Lund said he hasn’t talked to Star Tavern employees about the pending sale because “it’s not a done deal.”
He believes the tavern opened at that location in the 1960s.
“So it’s been at the one spot quite a while,” he said.
The commissioners approved an agreement for the purchase of the property at their Monday meeting. If the purchase continues moving forward, the deal is scheduled to close on Sept. 14.
“The county has been real easy to work with and they’re fair,” Lund said. “I felt comfortable selling it to them.”
The bar would close around that same time, but the county won’t take possession of it until a few weeks after the deal is closed.
The funding to purchase the tavern is coming out of the Capital Facilities Plan funds, which is primarily funded by real estate excise tax money.
The county would seek a bond for any construction costs for the new building.
“We will move forward (with the new building) when the economy has picked up and we feel comfortable,” Strozyk said. “We’re taking little steps now, acquire property as it becomes available.”
The county doesn’t plan to demolish the Star Tavern in the near future.
Strozyk said one of the two apartments above the bar is occupied and the county plans to honor the lease agreement, which lasts around nine more months. Until money is available to move forward with demolition and construction, the county is considering renting out the bar space to another government agency.