KINGMAN - Mohave County doesn't want the 50-year-old Arnold Plaza building on Oak Street, and apparently nobody else does either.
No one bid on the building Monday when the Mohave County Board of Supervisors tried to auction it off at its meeting.
The bidding started at $65,000 for the 23,000 square foot commercial building located in the heart of downtown Kingman.
Before the auction could get started, District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson asked how the starting bid level had been set when the issue had not come before the Board for approval.
"Didn't we have another appraisal a few years ago that was higher than this?" Johnson asked.
County Procurement Director Annie Newtown Fruhwirth said another appraisal of the building had been done approximately two years ago, but she couldn't give an accurate appraisal value because she didn't have a copy of the appraisal with her.
County Administrator Mike Hendrix said he was unaware of the other appraisal. He said the appraiser hired by the county, Taylor Ross & Associates, had included the cost to the purchaser of repairing the building and abating the asbestos in it in the proposed sale price.
The building has been in mothballs since the county treasurer's and assessor's offices moved out in 2005. According to the appraiser's report, it has several problems. It needs a new roof, ceilings, carpet, doors, windows, bathroom fixtures, heating/air conditioning units, lighting, a coat of paint inside and out, and contains an unknown amount of asbestos and possibly mold.
In 2011, the department estimated it would cost the county about $200,000 to replace the roof and nearly $2 million to refurbish the building to make it usable. It would cost approximately $600,000 to level the building.
The issue created a controversy because the public works department was also asking for $6 million for a new building.
The Board decided to demolish the building, but the county ran into a series of problems with the demolition contract in 2012 and ended up throwing the contract out.
The new five-member Board, which took office in January, asked staff to re-examine the situation and have the property appraised.
Taylor & Ross Associates appraised the property in September at around $65,000.
Hendrix said the Board could set the minimum price of the building higher, but state statute prohibited it from selling the building for less than 90 percent of the appraised value.
Johnson also questioned the amount of asbestos left in the building.
County staff had put the cost of removing the asbestos at more than $226,000.
Johnson said he thought the county had removed most of the asbestos during a retrofit in the early 1990s.
"All that's left is in the floor tiles. I mean, it's not like we have a big ball of asbestos in the building that's going to roll down the street and kill someone," he said.
Hendrix disagreed. The retrofits in the 1990s did not take out all of the asbestos, he said. There is some still located in the ceiling, as well as in the floor tiles. In the building's old Information Technology Office, asbestos was actually hanging from the ceiling.
District 4 Supervisor Joy Brotherton agreed with Hendrix that something needed to be done with the building.
"The city of Kingman has been after us about this building for a while and with the Route 66 celebration coming up, I know they're going to be pushing us to clean this up," she said. "I think any money we can get out of it would put us ahead."
When Hendrix's two requests for bids from the audience failed to garner any response, the Board approved sending the issue back to staff for a second look at the county's options for the building.
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