The Merrill Redevelopment Authority Tuesday morning voted to pay C & D Excavating an additional $11,000 to fully remove the foundation at the Lincoln House site. 
The original $156,000 contract stipulated that the structure be removed to two feet below grade. That would leave the west foundation wall and the basement slab. There are actually two slabs under the ground, as the foundation for the Lincoln House was poured on top of the slab of the original hotel building which burned down.
City Administrator Dave Johnson said the removal of the entire foundation would make the lot more attractive to potential developers. The city owns the lot and intends to market it to potential developers once the building is removed. The city resorted to demolition after unsuccessfully attempting to attract a developer to rehabilitate the building.
“Do we want to make an additional investment so somebody has a shovel-ready lot?” Johnson asked the committee.
The city received an insurance settlement on the Lincoln House after a broken water pipe caused significant damage last February. The insurance money is paying for the initial demolition.
City Finance Director Kathy Unertl pointed out that the city already has a substantial investment in the Lincoln House property. Another $11,000 to provide a clean site is a small investment, she said.
“I feel this may make it more attractive (for redevelopment), especially on a downtown site,” added Mayor Bill Bialecki.
Johnson said the city isn’t as concerned about the actual value of the lot itself, but the value of any redevelopment on the site.
“We’re not really looking at getting anything out of the lot so much as to get it redeveloped to increase the tax base,” Johnson said.
The Redevelopment Authority also discussed the state of the former Guys Shop building at 913 E. Main St. A roof collapse Feb. 2 left the building’s fate uncertain. The building, which is owned by Lincoln Community Bank, will be demolished, said city building inspector Darin Pagel. Demolition will be complicated by the fact that the Guys Shop building abuts the building to the west, he added.
The Redevelopment Authority was to consider whether to include the 913 E. Main St. building in the downtown TID #6. However, Bialecki asked that the matter be held over until more is known about plans for demolition and any potential proposals for redevelopment.