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Jarbeaux House: What to do?

By Corene Brisendine

Historic Review Board members have given the city some ideas for selling the unoccupied Jarbeaux House at 402 Bluemont Ave.

Those suggestions included registering the house with the Manhattan Historic Registry, creating a conservation easement on the property, acquiring an estimate of the market value of the property, or rezoning the property. 

They also advised including a list of deficiencies in the house noted by the city building inspector.

Lance Evans, senior planner for the city, said the city wants to limit the new owner’s ability to change the “historic nature” of the house.

“If it went on the Manhattan Registry, it could be protected very well,” said Linda Glasgow, librarian and archivist for the Riley County Historical Museum.

Evans said the house qualified to be put on the national registry, but the city has not done so. If the new owners wanted to do that, it could open the possibility of grants for improving the structure, he said.

Evans also noted that if the new owner wants to make any changes or additions to the structure, it must be approved by the Historic Review Board.

Dixie West, chair of the board, said the city should ask a local Realtor to determine the market price for the house before asking for a minimum bid.

She acknowledged the city had spent a lot of money moving the house and putting it on a new foundation, but that shouldn’t be a factor in the asking price.

Evans said the city acquired the house through condemnation about four years ago, in order to build the roundabout on Bluemont.

The city moved the house to the back of its lot on the corner of Fourth Street and Bluemont to make room for the new intersection, and also set the house on a new foundation.

“The city can never hope to recoup that (cost),” West said.

The board also recommended changing the zoning at the site, because the house would be more attractive as an office or business than a home.

Currently, the house is zoned R-2, or residential district. Board members said the residential district restricts the types of businesses that can be housed there; and if the city rezoned it, there would be more flexibility for potential buyers.

Evans said he was not sure if rezoning would be a good thing, because it might open the door for others along that portion of Bluemont to rezone their property for commercial use.

In addition to restrictions on altering the structure, the board also requested that the laundry list of structural deficiencies from a December inspection by Brad Claussen, city building official, be attached to the proposal.

City officials will take the recommendations of the board into consideration and create a request for proposals (RFP).

The city commission will have to give approval before the house is advertised for sale, and the commission also must approve any bids received.

Evans said the house was included in an RFP a few years ago, along with two other houses on the corner.

The other houses were sold and moved to new locations at that time, but the house at 402 Bluemont went unsold.

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