County Acquires Younkers Building

By the time you read this, the County of Door will own the former Younkers store at 56 N. 4th Ave. in Sturgeon Bay.

County Administrator Ken Pabich announced at the March 12 meeting of the county’s Facilities & Parks Committee that the closing, for the purchase price of $505,000, would take place March 14 or 15.

County staff and the committee now face several tasks, including finding a tenant for the front 10,000 square feet of the 22,000-square-foot building.

The deal was attractive to the county because the building is next door to the Door County Historical Museum, which is badly in need of archival space and parking for visitors, both of which can be accommodated by the purchase. One rear section will be used for museum and county archives, and another rear section will be used for county storage.

Facilities & Parks Director Wayne Spritka was charged with coming up with a list of immediate needs for the 59-year-old building, some of which are already known.

“What do we need to do to shore up the building?” said Pabich. “The roof needs to be replaced. Some of the heating units might need to be fixed or replaced, and some doors and windows. We want to get the building buttoned up and maybe generate some revenue through tenancy of the front space.”

The building purchase included display cabinets, tables, computers and various other items. Pabich said that whatever isn’t used for county purposes will be offered for public sale.

The committee also learned that many of the bids came in high for the Cana Island Light Station Interpretive Center – higher than the $522,000 that was budgeted for, Spritka said. The total bid for the 15 components of the project came in at $680,000.

David Mayo of Studio Mayo Architects and Paul Martzke of Immel Construction said the bids were high because of the combination of a busy construction market and the remote location of the project.

“It was hard to get good bids, and I don’t feel like they are competitive bids. A lot of them seem inflated,” Mayo told the committee. “I can’t accept them. Some of the numbers are just too high to accept.”

After much discussion, the committee decided to accept bids that seemed acceptable – such as Alberts Plastering drywall bid for $8,267 as opposed to a competitor’s bid of $22,980 for the same project – and rebid the items that were high.

The committee also voted to extend the closing date of the Hidding property as part of the Door Bluff Headlands Park from March 14 to July 15. Parks Director Ben Nelson explained that one of the grants being used for the $450,000 purchase requires an environmental review by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and because of the federal shutdown earlier in the year, there is a backlog of work for that agency.

Corporation Counsel Grant Thomas said the sellers agreed to the extension as long as the county pays the tax burden on the property, which amounts to less than $1,000.

Asked by Supervisor Susan Kohout whether the extension will affect grant money, Nelson said it will probably help him in being able to secure grants to pay for the property, as was stipulated by the committee from the outset.