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Records show city paid premium price for rec building

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Tri-Cities Sportsplex

The city of Bristol Tennessee agreed in August to buy the property at 511-515 Melrose St. for $1,400,000 for use as a recreational facility.

A property purchased by Bristol, Tennessee, last month for $1.4 million was sold in 2020 for $250,000, county records show.

City Council unanimously approved the purchase of the Tri-Cities Sportsplex property at 515 Melrose St. in a called meeting last month in order to provide a place for recreation programming, tournament play and gym space. The 33,000+ square foot facility, which was renovated in 2013, houses two basketball courts upstairs and a batting cage downstairs.

In 2021, the property located just off Volunteer Parkway was given a total market appraisal of $257,600.

The main justification for buying the property well above its previous sale price and most recent appraisal was comparative building costs, Terry Napier, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said Tuesday.

“If you look at the square footage of that building, it would be easy to make the argument that it is worth what the city paid for it and more, based on what it costs to build,” Napier said. “Right now, it is much cheaper to purchase and renovate an old building than it is to build a new building. Building costs are substantially up right now. The decision was made by five council members to purchase the building at the price that it was offered.”

According to Napier, the city contracted a firm for plans to build a community center from the ground up, but that contract is being modified for renovation plans for the Melrose Street property, which came with all of the facility’s personal property in the sale.

The renovations could cost the city $2 million, Napier said during August’s called meeting; however, he added that the project’s cost is much less than having to spend $12 million to $18 million on a completely new building. Napier also said the recently acquired structure checks almost all of the boxes that were wanted in such a facility, including its location and proximity to city schools.

City Council member Margaret Feierabend said Tuesday that it can sometimes be difficult for cities to purchase real estate as sellers may raise their price when the city comes knocking. Overall, she thinks the acquisition and renovation is a step in the right direction that will enable the city to move on to other projects in the future.

“It certainly is cheaper than what we were looking at and provides more opportunities to spend money on some other things that we have in our wish list and hope list for planning for the future,” Feierabend said.

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