That awful building left standing ugly? Hey, it wasn't us, City says

The City has posted a sign explaining who is responsible for the condition and fate of the tattered, empty former Liquidation Outlet on West Main.   - Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter
The City has posted a sign explaining who is responsible for the condition and fate of the tattered, empty former Liquidation Outlet on West Main.
— image credit: Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter

Formally, it's known as the empty building at 30 West Main.

On the street, however, the old Liquidation Outlet just south of Auburn City Hall has garnered its share of citizen gripes.

Not only has the building itself seen better days, detractors say, but the 2010 razing of the adjacent Charlie Wong building left the east wall of the store stuck all over with gross bits of the long-shuttered, burned-out bar.

Rubbed raw by the homely sight just beyond its windows, City Hall recently stuck a sign in the empty lot next to the building, letting people know who owns the structure — the Bank of Washington in Lynnwood — who is responsible for the way it looks — and whom to call about it — Bruce Addison, senior vice president, special credits manager for the bank.

"Have we received any complaints? How about have they ever stopped. We wanted recognition that it wasn't our idea," Mayor Pete Lewis explained of the sign. "We put the sign up and have been getting inquiries from people who thought the City owned it. This is just about getting the public the correct information about who owned the asset."

Addison says to date he hasn't received any sign-generated phone calls about the building.

"The building has value, I wouldn't say a lot, but we've had some interest from the sale and leasing standing point," Addison said. "We're trying to find the right purchaser or tenant for the building."

Addison said one of the redevelopment proposals suggested putting doors and windows on the west side of the building, where there is a parking lot, and making that its front.

Lewis said the latest information about the building is that there are three different groups considering purchase and sales agreements with the owner.

Rubbing some pointy grains of a salt in the City's wound is this — that the bank was offered a break on demolition costs by having it done jointly with the razing of the old Marvel Grocery building and Charlie Wong building.

Thanks, but no thanks, said the bank.

Addison said that the City had considered the repainting of that ugly east side as a potential Clean Sweep project. Although the bank gave its permission, he said, it never happened.

Last year the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the bank, pleading with the bankers to be good neighbors and to do something about the eyesore.

In the letter, co signed by Michele Oosterink, then chamber board chair, and Nancy Wyatt, Chamber president and COO, the organization described how its mission of "building a strong economy" and "promoting the community," isn't exactly helped by "the state of disrepair and unsightliness" on display at 30 West Main.

To paraphrase the letter, the building fails to accessorize with the street improvements, infrastructure upgrades, sidewalk improvements and other fix-ups now under way to entice would-be developers to the downtown, key to long-cherished plans for renovation.

"The only blight on our excitement," the letter said, "is when showing off these great improvements, we have your unsightly building situated right in the middle of it all. We do not know what your longterm intentions are for this property. However, we are requesting that you be a good neighbor and do your part for the redevelopment and improvements of our downtown by addressing the unsightliness of your building, whether by demolition or by refurbishing the exterior."

"People just wonder why this building was kept up when the rest of the city is trying to redevelop," Lewis said. "We can't take their building down. We don't have the authority. In fact, we don't want the authority — or the building."

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