City extends Gabe's Tower proposals to Nov. 21

Mayor Tom Watson

Developers will have an extra two weeks to submit a proposal to the city for the dilapidated Gabe's Tower hotel.

City officials had originally set Nov. 7 as the deadline.

But according to a legal advertisement in Sunday's Messenger-Inquirer, the city has extended the proposal deadline to 3 p.m. on Nov. 21 "for the acquisition and total rehabilitation of the former Gabe's Tower."

Kalyn Fox, the city's purchasing agent, said more consideration was given to the scope of the project and city administrators decided that more time should be given to any prospective developers.

"We have seen some interest in the project, so it was extended to ensure that we are giving ample time (and) opportunity for any (and) all interested developers to submit proposals," Fox said.

Mayor Tom Watson said he was allowing City Manager Nate Pagan and his staff to determine the future of Gabe's Tower, whether it's securing a developer or demolishing it.

Watson, however, added that he was unaware of the extended proposal deadline until he saw the notice in the Messenger-Inquirer.

"I texted Nate and he said one of the responders asked for more time," Watson said.

As part of the process, city officials may look into federal grants that would either allow a developer to rehabilitate it with incentives or enable the city to raze Gabe's Tower to build a new transit station with federal funds.

But in order to receive federal money, Gabe's Tower would have to go through what's called a Section 106 review process that falls under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966. The hotel opened at 20th and Triplett streets in 1963.

Fox said the proposals, however, aren't necessarily tied to any historical requirement.

"We did not tailor the RFP (request for proposals) toward one specific avenue," Fox said. "We will evaluate any type of proposal from a reputable developer. However, registering the building on the National Register of Historic Places and using tax credits is an option for developers, as advertised by the Historic Preservation Office."

Watson said he isn't optimistic about receiving any serious proposals largely because of the expense to rehab the building, which will turn 56 years old on Nov. 16.

"I think it's prudent that we exhaust all opportunities for anybody to have this thing refurbished," Watson said. "I just have very little faith that it will ever happen."

After years of trying to acquire Gabe's Tower, the city took ownership of it on Sept. 5. It purchased the 13-story silo-shaped building at 1926 Triplett St. for $360,000 from Bob Zimmerman, who had owned it since 2017.

If there are no takers or the proposals are deemed unacceptable, Fox said it will be up to Pagan and his staff on how to move ahead.

"Whatever decision is made, we can say that we have exhausted all options and feel comfortable with the decision," Fox said.

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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