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City taking bids to demolish, develop Walker Hall property

The next large development in downtown Danville could be at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Second Street. The nearly 3.5-acre tract on the Kentucky School for the Deaf campus was recently purchased by the city from the state and is where Walker Hall, the former KSD elementary school, is situated.

The city is accepting bids through Dec. 1 to demolish the empty building and haul away the debris.

It’s also accepting bids until Dec. 3 for proposals to purchase and develop the property. However, the city reserves the right to refuse or reject any or all bids “for any reason or for no reason whatsoever,” according to the advertisement for bids published in The Advocate-Messenger.
City Manager Earl Coffey said the city commission will decide what’s the best use of the property and chose who to sell it to. “The objective is to ensure the property has the greatest benefit to the community.”
He added, “Any proposal would want to consider the land use possibilities and the city will be in a position to make the judgment of applicability as part of the proposal process.”
“I think the downtown master plan indicated that area would be best suited to serve the medical industry.  We would concur with that recommendation, but again the commission will make the decision of appropriateness based upon the responses,” Coffey explained.
The Kentucky Board of Education listed the Walker Hall property as surplus in December of last year. At the same time, officials also mentioned the possibility of other KSD properties being surplused in the future.
In June, a story in The Advocate-Messenger regarding the city’s announcement that it was going to purchase Walker Hall for $850,000, City Attorney Stephen Dexter said, “When the state makes a decision to dispose itself of real property, they have a series of steps they take.” He added, “The first is making an offering of the property to other public agencies in the area.”
Dexter explained that the state offers property to other public agencies at the appraised value without going through a formal bidding process and opening to the public.
“They do that with the understanding that these assets can be rather critical to either economic development efforts or redevelopment efforts of a downtown area, which Walker Hall certainly is,” Dexter said.
On Thursday, Coffey said, “The city commission felt like the determination of ‘highest/best use’ for 3.5 acres downtown was best made locally. Therefore (the city) acquired the property.”