Three small businesses with young entrepreneurs and staff have the plans, the financing, and the proper bids on properties Casper City Council will decide whether to sell at its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

That's when they'll need the votes.

"Ourselves as well as the other companies involved just want the opportunity to show our value to our community and that area is very important," said Scott Cotton, owner of 1890 Screen and Stitch and its related 1890 Craft Apparel.

"We can continue to redevelop some of the more run-down areas of town that we feel are valuable, and more valuable than being torn down," Cotton said.

Last month, the 1890 and two other businesses made their pitches to a welcoming City Council.

Everything seemed a go until the Conference Center Consortium's apparent last-minute appeal to the council that identified South Ash Street near the David Street Station as a prime location for a $70 million hotel-conference center. Financing is not certain, consortium spokesman Brandon Daigle said last week.

Some council members said the prospect of a conference center was too important to ignore, while others said the city should proceed to sell the properties.

Cotton said the idea for a conference center has been around for a long time and he doesn't oppose one, but thought the consortium's request to council to delay the decision was underhanded. "I think all three companies were fairly blindsided when we had gone through the process and abided by all the rules of the RFP (request for proposal)."

In 2016, the city bought the former Plains Furniture building on South David Street and that property included on the same block on Ash Street: The former 10,500-square-foot Ka-Larks Gymnastics property appraised at $300,000, the former 13,500-square-foot Milo's Toyota Body Shop property appraised at $217,000, and a former 14,000-square-foot livery stable property appraised at $340,000 between the Ka-Larks and Milo's properties.

The city wanted to sell those 1920s-era properties for redevelopment because they reflect the history of downtown, would foster historic preservation, and enhance neighborhood services, according to the agenda for the City Council's Nov. 14 agenda.

The city received three bids:

  • The 1890 businesses (production and showroom for Wyoming wares) submitted a bid of $300,500 for the Ka-Lark's Building.
  • Ashby Construction, Inc., (office, residential and commercial spaces) submitted a bid of $220,000 for the Milo's building.
  • Frosted Tops, LLC, (trendy dessert bakery) submitted a bid of $217,500 for the Milo's building.

The city also received inquiries on the livery stable, but no bids.

If City Council agrees to further the consider this site for a hotel-conference center, the Ash Street properties would remain vacant at least until spring before anyone knows about their fate.

If City Council accepts the bids, that ends the possibility of the hotel-conference center on that site, Cotton said.

The three businesses posted their concerns on a Facebook page, saying, "We all feel that the system has been stacked against us, and that small business continues to (play) second fiddle to government. Is that the message that we want to sent to entrepreneurs looking to invest in our community?"

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