By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
The city of Havre received one bid Tuesday in its continuing attempt to sell the Heritage Center.
The amount - $5,000 - is far lower than a previous bid of $75,000 that was rejected by the city when Mayor Bob Rice decided to advertise statewide and open bidding again.
The Havre City Council's Finance Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Monday to consider the bid.
"I figured there would be one or two. I was hoping there would be two (bids)," said City Council member Tom Farnham, who chairs the Finance Committee.
Council member Emily Mayer Lossing, who had pushed for a public vote on whether the city should keep the building, said she was disappointed in the lack of interest.
"Due to some of the interest that had been generated as of late, I was kind of surprised that only one bid had been received," she said today.
The $5,000 bid, with a $500 deposit, was submitted by Tom Lambrecht, who had previously submitted bids for the downtown landmark. Lambrecht said he and his wife, Jamie, believe their project can still work even though all tenants have vacated the building.
"We continue to have an ongoing interest in the Heritage Center, but with the loss of the previous tenant base, the economics have changed," Lambrecht said. "However, even in view of this, we still feel that it can be a viable project."
Lambrecht has said the couple wants to develop the facility as a professional office complex and cultural center.
No bids were submitted by Bob Nault and his anonymous partners, who had earlier submitted the $75,000 bid. He could not be reached for comment.
The Northcentral Montana Community Ventures Coalition had earlier submitted a letter of intent to buy the building. The coalition decided Monday not to bid on it, executive director Angie Main said.
The group hired a consultant, who studied what types of businesses the coalition could house in the Heritage Center and how much renovations would cost. The consultant put together a plan, which was presented to the coalition's board on Monday, Main said.
"In light of the (consultant's) plan and in light of the fact that there were some people expressing some hesitancy in this, we decided that it was too early for us to take on a project this big," Main said. "We are going to concentrate on organizational development at this time."
The city has owned the building since 1996, when it purchased it from the U.S. Postal Service for $89,600, using funds from the state's Community Transportation Enhancement Program. If the building is sold, the money from the sale will return to CTEP.
The building had been leased by the Clack Foundation until July 1, when the foundation said it could no longer afford to operate it. The city has said it can't afford to operate the building either and has closed it down.
This is the third time the city has put the building up for bid, and the second time that it advertised statewide.
The Havre City Council had voted 5-4 on Dec. 6, with Mayor Bob Rice casting the deciding vote, in favor of not accepting any other bids until the council had reached a decision on Nault's bid.
The coalition had submitted a letter of intent but no dollar bid, under the impression that a dollar bid wasn't required.
Later, at Nault's request, Rice decided out of concern for fairness to reject Nault's bid and restart the bidding process.