The City of Owensboro closed on the Gabe’s Tower property Thursday afternoon nearly five months after signing a purchase agreement with property owner Robert Zimmerman.
City Manager Nate Pagan said the final purchase price was $360,000 and City officials are still determining a timeline for rehabilitation or demolition of the tower.
Pagan said the sale of the property was delayed while Zimmerman worked out a release of the mortgage from his purchase of the building.
Pagan told Owensboro Times in April that once the City acquired Gabe’s Tower, they planned to demolish the building. After closing on the property Thursday, he said there is not a definitive plan for the tower at this time. One of the proposed uses for the property is a transit service, he said.
“We want to ensure the property remains eligible for federal funds,” he said. “Because of that, there are some state and federal requirements that we will have to work through.”
City Development Director Abby Shelton said federal funding will determine the future of the property.
“If we find a developer that is willing to turn the property into a viable business or housing, it could be rehabbed,” Shelton said. “We’re not shutting anything completely down as of right now.”
Shelton is in the process of procuring requests for proposals from developers, which she hopes will be ready in the next month. She has also called the Louisville-based Department of Housing and Urban Development to better determine a potential timeline for the project.
Should a transit facility be the ultimate decision for the property, Shelton said, it would most likely replace the current Allen Street location.
“Based on our funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation, we have to abide by their rules,” she said.
Zimmerman told Owensboro Times Thursday that he would like to see the City develop the property. He bought the tower from a development group out of Pennsylvania in 2017. He told media and City officials that he planned to turn the deteriorating hotel into low-income housing for military veterans, but was not able to finance the project since the purchase.
“I’m a little disappointed at the way it turned out from the lack of funding,” Zimmerman said. “It was a viable project.”
The City first proposed to purchase Gabe’s Tower for $300,000, which Zimmerman turned down. After accepting the second offer of $360,000, Zimmerman said he netted $165,000 from the sale of the tower.
“I’m glad it’s over,” he said, adding that he does not have plans for any future projects. “I’m just going to sit back and rest for a while.”