WICHITA — Sedgwick County commissioners are scheduled to vote next Wednesday on whether to buy the old Coleman Co. factory building on the southeast corner of Second and St. Francis and turn it into a parking lot.
The county would pay $600,000 for the site under the proposed deal.
Because of soil pollution, Coleman and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment agreed in 2009 that the site would be used for parking only.
Groundwater and soil treatment continues at the site.
The location could provide 500 parking spaces and 14 handicap-accessible spots, according to the county's report.
The lot would serve Old Town and Intrust Bank Arena.
The county's purchase would also include land at the northeast corner of Second and St. Francis, making it 4.2 acres in all. County officials say the site price boils down to $3.28 a square foot, compared to the listing price of about $6.83 a square foot or $1.25 million for the site.
The four-story Coleman building — known as Factory A — has a rich history dating to its opening in 1929.
The 96,000-square-foot factory was retired in 1990.
Soon after, the city of Wichita began pursuing Coleman and other companies, including The Eagle, to pay for the cleanup of solvents and other chemicals found in the groundwater and soil downtown.
Several companies, including Coleman and The Eagle, have paid settlements to the city.
In 2001, The Wichita Eagle and Beacon Publishing Co. agreed to pay $1.2 million toward the cleanup of groundwater in the downtown area.
In 2006, The Eagle reported that Coleman had paid about $3.8 million, and it also paid $1.2 million for the initial investigation into the problem during the 1990s.
The building on the southeast corner of the intersection has been vacant for years and has fallen into disrepair.
In 2002, Coleman Co. began tearing out materials and had at least two groups interesting in developing the property.
That never materialized.
A walk around the property this morning revealed that it has dozens of broken windows. Graffiti tags are visible inside and outside the building. Fences surround the site, but holes large enough to crawl through have been cut into them.
Mayor Carl Brewer called the property a hazard and council member Janet Miller said it is an eyesore that people complain about every month.
The city has at least two code cases on the property, but officials say Coleman has been cooperating with them.
For more on this story, see Saturday's Wichita Eagle.