CHEYENNE Steve Borin, a Cheyenne businessman and developer, is looking into using crowd funding as a way to buy a vacant building in downtown Cheyenne.
Borin informally presented his idea Tuesday to the City of Cheyennes Fight the Blight Committee.
His concept would help bring the vacant Bell Building at 1605 Central Ave. back to useful life or ultimately tear it down and use the space for other purposes.
Crowd funding is a process where people donate money online for a specific purpose.
Everybody who gives money to the crowd fund would then be interested in the downtown, Borin said. He stressed that he still is working out the kinks in his plan, but first the City of Cheyenne could use some of its grant money from the Environmental Protection Agencys brown field project to pay for cleaning up asbestos at the old building.
Once thats done, the public could buy the building through crowd funding. Anyone could contribute to the cost of the 18,869-square-foot building in downtown Cheyenne.
Developers could bid their proposals for renovation or redevelopment on the publicly owned building to the City of Cheyenne, he said. The city would select the developer and work could begin.
Personally, Borin likes the idea of creating a public meeting space there.
Thats a realistic approach. We do the crowd funding to get it to the point where somebody could bid on it and then rehab the building in a logical fashion, he said.
If the idea works, it can be used again with other vacant buildings in downtown Cheyenne.
It appears to me that its time that we cant lean on any particular public entity, he said, like the city or the Downtown Development Authority/Main Street.
Borin renovated an old building on 17th Street and turned its upper floors into five lofts.
I know it can be done, he said. It will take a lot of participating from everybody and a lot of out-of-the-box thinking.
The project would need to raise between $300,000 and $400,000.
The four-story Bell Building at 1605 Central Ave. has been vacant since 2004, according to Patrick Graham, a real estate agent who is listing the property for $425,000.
The earthen-colored building was constructed in 1913 and once was used as a car dealership, Graham said. He has seen a photograph of the building where six large floor-to-ceiling glass windows accent the second and third floors instead of the small windows located there now. Parked behind the windows are automobiles.
The building itself has huge I-beams inside, and structurally it is a pretty sound building, Graham said. But theres water damage and buckled floors, he said.
Speaking from a personal standpoint, Graham said the building can be saved, but he represents his clients first.
He said hes not sure how Borins plan would work, and that it has pros and cons.
Borin said his idea can improve downtown.
You take an unused property and make it bloom again, he said.
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