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Developer buys Baker buildings

Developer has long history of rehabilitating historic properties

Staff writer

Peabody Main Street and Economic Development Director Shane Marler made a surprise announcement Sunday evening at the community band concert and ice cream social under the Operation Celebration tents on South Walnut Street, Peabody.

With nearly every table full of enthusiastic music fans, Marler told the crowd a developer from Kansas City had signed a purchase contract and earnest money had been received for the five connected Baker buildings on the west side of Walnut Street.

“After months of negotiations and hard work, Peabody Main Street Association and Peabody Economic Development are proud to announce that the buildings are currently under a purchase contract for redevelopment,” Marler said to a round of applause.

Mary Helmer, assistant state Main Street coordinator, briefly addressed the group saying, “The state and federal programs are thrilled at the prospect of the effect this will have on Peabody. This is huge for your community, absolutely huge!”

In a later interview, Marler said negotiations began shortly after he testified before members of the Kansas House Taxation Committee on March 3, to encourage the repeal of a cap the previous legislature had passed for historic tax credits. In his testimony, Marler told legislators the story of downtown Peabody and the possible impact the community could face with the loss of Baker Furniture and Carpet.

After Marler’s testimony, the developer approached him and expressed an interest in the buildings and the historic downtown district.

“We are not at liberty to name the developer at this point,” Marler said. “He has a long history of rehabilitating historic properties in the Kansas City and Wichita areas. He is well known in preservation circles.”

Marler said the real estate closing would come near the end of the year depending on the availability of the historic tax credits and additional financing.

“Both the developer and I have spoken to funding sources at the state and federal level and we are confident the acquisition of financing will not be an issue,” he said. “We intend to use multiple stacking funding sources including historic tax credits, national and state Main Street funding sources, as well as other sources.

“Peabody Main Street and Peabody Economic Development have partnered with both state and federal agencies to ensure the process is a success,” he said. “There is a great deal of interest at the national level due to the size of the project. Most historic tax credit projects involve single buildings. The fact that this project encompasses five properties has piqued the interest of many.”

Marler said the project took many months of hard work that began long before the developer indicated his interest in purchasing the properties.

“Everyone who worked on it is extremely excited about the potential for our downtown,” he said. “This is a multimillion dollar investment in our community and I am confident that it will be seen as a turning point in Peabody’s history.”

Last modified June 2, 2010

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