Citing safety concerns, Baldwin City buys old motel property; several tenants to be evicted

photo by: Elvyn Jones

The tenants of an old motel show here on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, are being forced to move after the city purchased the property last week.

A number of residents and two businesses face eviction in a month after Baldwin City recently purchased a site on U.S. Highway 56.

At its Sept. 1 meeting, the Baldwin City Council approved the purchase of the property at 109 U.S. 56 from Les Foster for $250,096. The property, which fronts the south side of the highway east of First Street, is currently the site of an old motel and a mobile home park that currently houses two recreational vehicles.

Tenants, who include residents of former motel units converted into apartments, the two RVs and owners of a hair salon and automotive shop located in the motel were notified last week that they needed to vacate the premises by Oct. 9, according to a notice one tenant posted online. The sales contract between the city and Foster states that the tenants must be off the property and all leases terminated by the closing date of Oct. 26. It further states that evictions are Foster’s responsibility. The contract also states that Foster must “remove all buildings, structures, concrete and debris” from the site by the closing date.

Baldwin City Mayor Casey Simoneau said the idea of purchasing the site developed during ongoing conversations the city had with Foster. The sale was then referred to the City Council’s safety subcommittee because of identified safety concerns at the property.

Ed Courton, Baldwin City community development director, said he shared a laundry list of concerns with the committee regarding the site from basic property maintenance to fire safety hazards to multiple code violations.

Because of the property’s odd long, narrow shape and its frontage on U.S. 56, the city will create a site plan for the property, Simoneau said. That and the city’s ownership of the property will help the City Council ensure its goal of finding the “best use” for the site, he said.


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