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Cheyenne City Council Makes Wise Decision on Real Estate Sale

Cheyenne City Council Makes Wise Decision on Real Estate Sale

The Cheyenne City Council wisely chose to reject a deal that would have denied them the opportunity to look at multiple offers for the old police station property at 2020 Capitol Avenue.  Had they instead chosen to move forward with the administrations proposed no-bid deal, it would have done a disservice to residents, taxpayers, and even the potential purchaser of the building. It would have deprived residents of the transparency they deserve but have often been denied when the city disposes of city-owned prime commercial real estate. It also would have contradicted city council candidates’ promises to work hard to make downtown Cheyenne the best it can be. Finally, city council members would not have been good stewards of publicly-owned property if they had refused to ensure that the city is getting the best deal it possibly can to maximize revenue, both on the sale of the property and in the future by expanding the city’s property tax base.

Transparency is the hallmark of any process that the city uses to dispose of prime commercial real estate. The city thankfully did not turn their backs from this opportunity to fully explore the potential impact and maximum value of the former police station property, located a mere three blocks from the State Capitol. The city first entertained a proposal from a nearby landowner and then decided to begin the process of declaring the property surplus. In other words, the city of Cheyenne seemed to be on track to put the cart well ahead of the horse.

There is no question that Wyoming has entered the economic doldrums. Households, private businesses, and both state and local governments are all facing tighter financial circumstances. No one in either the business or government spheres can afford to miss an opportunity to maximize the value of an asset. These looming economic hard times make the city of Cheyenne’s original decision to pursue a quick, non-transparent sale of a city-owned asset downtown so troubling.  Last night’s reversal of that is a step in the right direction for everyone.

Thankfully the city council did not completely shrug off its biggest, most visible opportunity to take full advantage of the value of its downtown property.

Last night’s decision is reflected through a slightly different situation where Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice Parker offered guidance to local government leaders, writing:

“Even where the city officials are so well informed on the matter of a sale or exchange of land that no possible additional information could come to their attention by the advertisement of the intended disposition of city property, it is important to the officials of a city and the residents thereof that any appearance of unfairness be guarded against by complying with the provisions of this section.” City of Buffalo v. Joslyn, 527 P.2d 1106, 1974 Wyo. LEXIS 245 (Wyo. 1974).

There is great wisdom in this quote. Even if the city could have technically sold the old police station without using an auction or calling for sealed bids, “it is important to the officials of a city and the residents thereof that any appearance of unfairness be guarded against.” The best way to protect the city of Cheyenne from any appearance of unfairness is by offering the property to the public through advertising and eventual sale to the highest responsible bidder as Wyo. Stat. § 15-1-112 clearly states.

Now, the city should offer the former police station for sale to the highest responsible bidder in order to capitalize on the $350,000 the city plans to spend on redevelopment projects. The former police station’s proximity to downtown venues and government facilities makes it a lucrative and attractive property.  A basic rule of real estate investment is that location determines value. There is no other location in all of Cheyenne that is only two blocks away from every courthouse in the city and within mere steps of the state capitol building.

Last night’s decision shows city council members are serious about making city government transparent, protecting residents and taxpayers and about making downtown the best it can be.

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Saturday, 23 September 2017
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