BEATRICE – The City of Beatrice has taken a first step toward getting the historic Paddock-Kensington Hotel downtown, back in private hands.
The Beatrice City Council has approved an evaluation of the multi-story building’s structure, electric, plumbing and mechanical workings. R.O. Youker Inc. will do the structural engineering evaluation.


The city is looking to purchase the building for a nominal amount, from Agemark….which operated a retirement living center in the building before closing it earlier this year. The city and Agemark split the $8,000 cost of the study with the city.  City officials say there is private interest in taking over the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The City of Beatrice has reached agreement for a business to take over the former J.C. Penney building, long vacant near 6th and Court. 3-F-I, LLC, will pay $5,000 for the building, clean up the inside of the building and put a new roof on the structure at their cost. That cleanup cost is estimated by the city of between $20,000 and $30,000.


The arrangement also includes an agreement whereby the company will perform roof repair on city facilities that had damage from a severe hailstorm last June 11th. That repair work begins next Spring, at the cost of insurance proceeds of the city. The building is located at 517 to 519 Court. A local businessman, Aaron Schoen, of rural Filley, said he offered to take over the building and was interested in making a counteroffer following his original proposal.


"I think it's only fair that I get a shot to put a counteroffer in....to at least meet the same thing.... because why go with a company that just formed versus a company that is here in town that probably has done numerous roofs of yours already. They are here in town, they're not going anywhere."


Two councilmen, Ted Fairbanks and Rich Kerr, voted against the arrangement in the body’s 5-2 vote of approval. Fairbanks said he would have liked to see the transfer and city roof work separated.


"I like the end result of this. I don't like the process that we followed during this. I just think this should have been two separate entities....the sale of the building should have been one....the roofing contract, the other."


Fairbanks felt it represented a no-bid contract for a substantial amount and that the process could have been more transparent. City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer talked about the offer process.


"We talked to a couple of other individuals who made an offer on that building. Everybody that made an offer on that building at one-dollar....and were also asking for LB 840 funds, TIF financing and CDBG revolving loan funds, in addition to the building, for free. (Councilman Rich Kerr) "Was Mr. Schoen asking for any of those?...(Tempelmeyer)...Yes."


City Attorney Taylor Rivera said the company selected is taking on a lot with the cleanup of the building and providing a considerable amount of roof repair without asking for city cost assistance.