What Are The City's Options with the Omni Building Now?

After the City voted to take a look at the Omni Building in the next 90 days, one City Council member talks more about the building's potential, as well as what issues they already know about inside.
By Monica Yantosh
myantosh@klbk13.tv

LUBBOCK, TX -- After the City voted to take a look at the Omni Building in the next 90 days, one City Council member talks more about the building's potential, as well as what issues they already know about inside.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Gerlt said more than a year ago, he and a few others got permission to go inside the Omni Bulding in downtown Lubbock.  He said he knows there is fire damage, as well as copper wiring that has been stolen from the inside, but said he's not sure what other kind of work would need to be done inside.

"We got permission and we had one of the reps come in and we actually walked through the building some to see what the possibility could be," Gerlt said. "A couple of the floors are really nice, there was some remodeling that was done."

That's why the city entered into a contract that will allow them 90 days to do feasibility studies and see what needs to be done inside, and then the city council can decide if they want to purchase the building, assign it to a private contractor, or walk away from the deal.

"We don't know the structural integrity of the building, so it's very, very difficult to make any kind of decision without any information, and we couldn't get in to do that," Gerlt said.

At Thursday's city council meeting, during the discussion on the item, Mayor Glen Robertson said the contract is also assignable, meaning if the city finds it is structurally sound but does not think it would fit their needs someone else could take it over. Mayor Robertson went on to explain "This contract could be assumed by somebody in the private industry, hint, hint, if we could find such a person to assume our position."

There is currently talk that the building could become the new police department, which is one thing Gerlt said they will be considering. Gertl, however, said he is also not opposed to the idea of it going to a private contractor.

That, he said, would be beneficial to the city in terms of tax revenue. He said if the city owns the building, it would not get the tax money, but if it is owned by a private investor, it would bring the city tax dollars.

"I would love to have it developed by commercial, have someone come in and put a booming business downtown and help draw more business downtown, that would be ideal," Gerlt said.

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