Aldermen backed off their threat to force the tenant out of the former Red Cedar Inn building with penalties, voting instead to postpone a decision for two weeks while they consider the progress he has made in vacating the building.
The city purchased the historic building in October 2017 from Michael Gallagher, the great-grandson of the building founders, who operated his business Gallagher Mechanical there.
The city eventually plans to use the building as a visitor and history center and has been working with an architectural firm to design a renovation plan to accommodate the mixed uses.
At the time of the purchase, the city entered into a ease with Gallagher Mechanical to remain in the building.
The lease expired June 28 and some officials wanted Gallagher to relinquish the building to the city immediately, but Gallagher said it’s taking longer than he anticipated getting into the building he purchased for his office.
The discussion took place at the July 2 board of aldermen meeting.
City Attorney Bob Jones advised aldermen to file suit against Gallagher as the first step in taking possession of the building, which would include a $100-a-day fine for every day he remained in the building.
Gallagher was surprised by the threat of penalties. He said he had acquired two new locations for his business, one for equipment storage and one for his office, but getting into the new office building had taken longer than planned.
He said he has already moved much of his equipment to the new storage area and has been been working diligently to move everything else. He said city officials had assured him that he would be granted time to get out of the building.
“The two Steves (Mayor Steve Myers and City Administrator Steve Roth) both told me that I had time to get out,” Gallagher said. “They said the city didn’t need the building yet.”
Myers said what he had told Gallagher was that he (Myers) believed that the aldermen would work with him in his efforts to get into his new location.
“I still believe this evening that the aldermen will work with you,” he said.
Gallagher said some contents of the building were packed and ready to move and he thought he could be out entirely by the end of July.
Aldermen agreed to send Aldermen Andy Nemeth and Herb Adams to visit the building and review the progress of the move. The two are to report back to the full board July 16.