Park planned for old Pettit building site

Washington officials are planning to clean up an eyesore and install a park. The site of the former Pettit building has sat vacant for almost two years.

The city plans to create a small park at the site of the former Pettit law office building in downtown Washington. Photo:Observer-Reporter

When city officials decided to raze the former Pettit building in November 2015, their hope was for a buyer to come along and develop the property, putting it back on the tax rolls.

Almost two years later, a battered, exposed wall that the razed building shared with neighboring structures presides over an empty lot at the corner of North Main and East Chestnut streets.

Developers have expressed interest in 96 N. Main St., said Washington Mayor Scott Putnam, but no offers have been made.

To “get rid of an eyesore and gather some foot traffic,” city officials plan to create a green space at the busy intersection.

“Hopefully, it’s temporary, and we get someone to come in and develop,” said Putnam.

Putnam and council voted Thursday to allocate $70,000 – the remaining balance of 2014 Community Development Block Grant funds, plus $50,000 of 2017’s CDBG allocation – toward the project.

No decisions have been made for the design or amenities of the park, but addressing the eyesore of a wall in some fashion will be part of the project. Putnam said work will begin in the spring and should be completed “fairly quickly.”

If the entire $120,000 is not used, Putnam said it can easily be reallocated to other CDBG projects.

The property was left to the city in the estate of former Washington County district attorney John C. Pettit. About $90,000 in CDBG money was used for demolition of the building, which had extensive water damage from sitting vacant for years.

In other business, city council approved the site plan and lot consolidation for the Healing Center, a planned medical marijuana dispensary, at 799 W. Chestnut St.

Developers plan to tear down the building on that lot and construct a two-story facility.

The Healing Center was one of 27 dispensaries permitted this summer by the state Department of Health.

The next regular city council meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 9, with an agenda meeting at 1 p.m. Nov. 6.