County Buying GM Dealership Building, Property on South Broadway
By Tony A. Archuleta
Good news: the Sierra County Sheriff’s Department and the Sierra County Road Department will share new quarters by early next year in a commercially iconic building on South Broadway, in Truth or Consequences and close to Williamsburg.
More good news: Whitehead Chevrolet is NOT going out of business.
County Manager Bruce Swingle last week announced and Whitehead Chevrolet general manager Gary Whitehead confirmed Monday, Nov. 24, that the county will purchase the 10,000-square-foot dealership showroom and service area sitting on six-acres for $716,000. The deal includes a $295,000 property trade deeding a county-owned tract also on South Broadway to Whitehead.
Following Tuesday’s, Nov. 18, meeting, county officials reported that the commission went back into open meeting after executive session and voted to purchase the dealership property at 2501 S. Broadway.
This comes after a years-long plan to build new road department headquarters on a county-owned and now traded parcel at 1903 South Broadway was eventually declared a non-starter given the limited construction budget of $400,000.
Driving up the construction cost was a City of Truth or Consequences ordinance requiring new commercial buildings facing the city’s main thoroughfares to present suitable facades.
The new digs at Whitehead Chevrolet bring plenty of façade, but there were was some concerned registered on social media in recent days about the pending transaction, and county government watchdog and Truth or Consequences businessman/developer Randy Ashbaugh showed up at meeting’s start to caution the commission on moving too quickly on the deal.
Ashbaugh said he counts Whitehead as a good friend, but he said the transaction deserves further consideration, including public input.
“The Whitehead purchase might have merit, but further due diligence is required,” Ashbaugh said in a prepared statement.
Ashbaugh agreed that both the road department and the sheriff’s office are greatly in need of new headquarters – the SO located in a tiny former restaurant building on North Date Street and the road department working in a certifiably antique Quonset hut on South Broadway.
Ashbaugh said it makes good business sense to hire a consultant/architect to make the transition workable for both departments.
Additional terms of the deal include a provision that Whitehead will “spend up to $25,000” on remodel work to accommodate the new owners.
Upgrades include a new front entrance, installing walls for additional offices and addressing ADA compliance deficiencies, if any.
The sheriff and his staff will occupy the showroom floor space and offices, while the road department will take over the service area offices and garage bays.
The renovation timeframe is 90 days, according to Whitehead.
“I am committed to giving the county a good product,” Whitehead said.
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