Abilene development corporation sells vacant $10 million building for fraction of cost


ABILENE, Texas - A private university in Abilene is getting the better end of the bargain when it comes to a vacant building on Pine Street being sold by the city.

At Thursday's meeting, council moved forward allowing the Development Corporation of Abilene to sell AbLabs to Hardin-Simmons University. A building that cost $10 million to build is being sold to Hardin-Simmons University for just $1.5 million.

"We have spent well over two years pushing to market that building to science companies all over the U.S.," said Director of Economic Development Kent Sharp.

Hardin-Simmons University says it will use the building to expand the physical therapy program.

Mayor Anthony Williams appreciated Hardin-Simmons University coming forward to take the building, but he did acknowledge the large loss.

"I've said publicly and I'll say it once again that the endeavor was a poor use of public funds. I think it's an embarrassment for the amount of money that was invested in this," Williams said.

Councilman Bruce Kreitler agreed with Williams, saying it's better than being vacant.

"[It's] a godsend because it's $1.5 million more than we were going to get for that building," Kreitler said. "One-point-five million is a bad deal but it's not as bad a deal as a $10 million loss. It's the best that could have happened with that building."

Sharp explained to council that there is a $750,000 incentive.

"For each three-year period, [HSU] will be required to maintain an average annual enrollment of 75 students in the program and at least 5 employees located at 1325 Pine," Sharp said.

HSU says the earliest they can move in is December.

Also at Thursday ' s meeting, Mayor Anthony Williams requested a citizen ' s advisory board for people with disabilities be created. This will allow those with disabilities to have their voice heard when it comes to accessibility. Those from the disabled community came forward to express their appreciation and thank council. T o be a part of the board, contact the city secretary.