DDI officials plan to extend agreement with Bresee owners
DANVILLE — Board members of Downtown Danville Inc. are planning to extend an agreement with the owner of Bresee Tower that gives the downtown merchants association the right of first refusal if another entity were ready to accept the vacant 12-story building as a donation.
Dana Schaumburg, executive director of DDI, said the previous one-year agreement with the owner, Land Corp. of Danville LLC, expired in June, but a verbal agreement continues between the two until attorneys finish drafting a new agreement that will give DDI the right of first refusal for another six months.
"It's very integral to downtown, and we want to make sure the best thing happens for the building," she said.
Redevelopment of Bresee is one of the priorities of DDI, which would like to see the more than 90-year-old building developed into a combination of downtown office and living space and possibly a first-floor cafe.
Bresee is the only asset of the Land Corp. of Danville, which is a subsidiary of the Kentucky-based Forcht Group that has a presence in banking, insurance, broadcasting, publishing, retail, construction and real estate. The Forcht Group, formerly known as First Corbin, ended up with Bresee in 1993 when it purchased the radio station, WIAI, which was housed in the tower. The company later sold the radio station, and in 2006 announced that the building was being cleared of office tenants.
The corporation still leases the roof for antenna space, but has made no interior or exterior improvements even though the terra cotta facade began crumbling several years ago, even dropping small chunks onto the sidewalks below.
Since then, the county and city paid for contractors to secure the facade, and Schaumburg said DDI officials still believe that if the building can remain secure with some basic maintenance done for another couple years, the prospects are favorable for redevelopment.
The last scenario DDI and local government officials want is for the owners to donate the building to an organization that does not have the financial ability to redevelop it, and the building continues to deteriorate, which would put pressure on the city and county to consider footing the bill to demolish it. Representatives of Land Corp. of Danville have said they would like to donate the building.
Although a potential developer is not ready to take the building tomorrow, Schaumburg said, she stays in contact with the current ownership on a regular basis, and DDI officials are making some progress toward a future for the building. We just need to preserve the building for the right time, she said.
"We still feel like we have a couple years to keep the building secure and work with people interested in developing it," she said.