City purchases Wells Fargo building in downtown Seguin
24 Aug 2023
Downtown, City of Seguin
Seguin, TX, USA / Seguin Today
(Seguin) — The city of Seguin is moving forward with its purchase of the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Seguin. The Seguin City Council on Tuesday approved the $2.5 million purchase price for the building, located at 101 E. Nolte St.
City Manager Steve Parker says this is an exciting opportunity for the city. The building has been on the market for a few months now, and he says the city is purchasing the building to make sure that it has input on the future use of that space. The Wells Fargo building was identified as a key redevelopment component in the city’s new Downtown Master Plan.
“During our downtown master planning, it was evident that one of the economic development strategies was to make sure that we take care of key parcels, large parcels that would come up for redevelopment opportunities (and) to make sure that we’re in control of what that turns out to be,” said Parker.
There have been occassions in the past where key properties were sold and not immediately developed, or they were redeveloped into something that may not now be aligned with the vision laid out by the master plan. Parker says this is a wise investment in the future of downtown Seguin.
“We know some of the options that were out there may not be very good sources that would be in downtown — if it was a medical group or something like that (or) an office building. I think the vision that this council and this downtown master plan really thought that was a great opportunity for restaurant, retail, commercial, hotel — anything along those lines, that would keep people downtown at longer hours, so all the stores stayed open,” said Parker.
Parker says the goal is to create a vision for the property and then develop a public-private partnership with a developer that will make the improvements to the property. He says it’s similar to a process used by New Braunfels Utilies, or NBU, when it had plans to move from its centralized location in downtown New Braunfels.
“They have a headquarters right down on the traffic circle in New Braunfels. They are vacating that to build a corporate headquarters outside of that downtown area.
But that means that that building was going to come up for redevelopment and/or just a possible sale. They did not want to…just be flipped and not have any control of whatever it is (in the future). They actually went through a process with a company called Douglas Architects that helped them master plan this and entitle it for what they thought the community felt would be the vision for that building. And it goes along right in line with what I think our vision should be. We should be in control of what that particular building turns into,” said Parker.
Parker says they are hiring Douglas Architects to help with this project. He says that work will help the city ultimately find the right developer for the project. He says this work will help to create a vision for what people want to see included in that space.
“If it requires a parking garage, the entitlements would go with it. If they want to go up four stories, five stories, that entitlement goes with it. (We would) work through all those things with our community, our council and our staff to figure out what the highest and best use is, and what we want it to be. Then in turn, (we would) issue an RFQ (request for qualifications) and an RFP (request for proposals) at some point that would look for a quality developer that would come in and do (the work) and put in exactly what we want. We would work together with them to sell that building back to them at some point with certain entitlements (in place) and get exactly what we want in our community,” said Parker.
Councilman Jim Lievens added that he wanted to make it clear that the city wasn’t looking to become a long-term landlord for the building. He says this is more about protecting the future use of that building.
“I don’t think anyone here is looking for any sort of long-term ownership for that building. We are not looking to be landlords for that facility at all. I think you stated it quite well. We saw a need for local government to play a role in trying to impact what type of businesses might come in to best benefit our city,” said Lievens. “I think we can agree…we would not want long-term ownership. We do not want to be long-term landlords or anything like that.”
Mayor Donna Dodgen says this is a big step for the city, but she knows it’s the right thing to do for the city’s future. She says the Wells Fargo building is such a big part of the master plan, which clearly demonstrates why the city needs to make sure that it’s developed in a way that’s consistent with the components included in the downtown plan.
“I went through our downtown master plan and looked at how many times it spoke about that building and its footprint — and it was (mentioned) six times. So apparently, the community felt it was really important to have some control, and to do something with that area. I think it’s a bold move. I think it’s time to take that bold step. It is bold and I will tell you it’s really been, not an easy process, but the doors have opened nicely as it has come about. It hasn’t been us pushing. It hasn’t been us negotiating a whole lot. It’s really happened (organically), and I just really think it’s meant to be. If you believe that or not, but I do happen to believe that. It’s meant to be and we’ve talked about it many times in the master plan. If it went to something that didn’t bring us more revenue (and) didn’t bring us some of the things that we want for quality of life, that would be tragic,” said Dodgen.
The city is using some of its reserves to make the purchase. Parker says that money would later be reimbursed to the city.
“We are proposing to use some excess reserves in our electric utility and water utility, that we don’t need for a couple of years, and then pay ourselves back when that that actual sale goes through in the future. There’s different ways for these public-private partnerships go. We could buy the building, fix it up and then lease it out ourselves. We could buy it, fix it up, and then sell it to somebody else at a marked up price. But I think for everything we’re hearing from the consultants, it would be getting those entitlements to the building figured out and (determining) what the vision is for that building, and then trying to find a quality partner to go out and do the work,” said Parker.
Parker says he thought his staff did a great job negotiating this deal. He says he also appreciates the bank for considering the city’s purchase of this building, located in the heart of the downtown area.
“I thank Wells Fargo for seeing our vision. That was part of the story we told of how we want to see this, and what it could mean for our community. Right now, that’s not generating a lot of property taxes in our downtown. But if it had a really nice, high-end restaurant — some of those high-end restaurants in New Braunfels bring in over $125,000 a year in sales tax. And so that’s why it makes sense to start looking at public-private partnerships to make these things happen. When you entitle it, that speeds up the process for them. There are some known things that you get that will allow you to get quality developers. We’re paying $100 a square foot for this building. But there are buildings in downtown, that are not near as essential, and their asking price right now is over $200 a square foot,” said Parker.
In addition to the purchase, the council also agreed to hire Douglas Architects, which will assist the city and the community with the creation of a vision for the redevelopment of the building. Their work will also include a cost benefit analysis for the project. This is similar to the work that was done with the NBU project. Parker says he hopes people should take a look at the vision that was created for NBU’s building, which has led to new hotel, restaurant and bar space in downtown New Braunfels.
“I really encourage people, that are kind of looking at this item like what is going on, to go read the PowerPoint that’s attached to the agenda item, and then also click on the link in the memo and look at the New Braunfels Utility (redevelopment project) and hopefully, that will create some excitement for what this could mean to our downtown,” said Parker.
Details about the NBU redevelopment project can be found online at nbutexas.com/legacy.