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Experian building
Experian's building, on 20 acres at 949 W. Bond St. (LJS file)

Purchasing the Experian building in northwest Lincoln will save the city about $500,000 over 15 years and potentially keep some private sector jobs in Lincoln, according to Mayor Chris Beutler.

"It is too good to pass up," he said during a Tuesday news conference announcing his proposal to buy the mostly vacant building at 949 W. Bond St. for $6.5 million and rent some space back to the company.

Experian would lease space for about 150 employees in the building for at least five years, Beutler said.

Experian is best known as a credit bureau but also maintains and analyzes databases at several locations, including Lincoln.

If the company had sold the building and been unable to lease the space, those jobs could have moved from Lincoln, the mayor said.

"This is a highly suitable and well-maintained building," Beutler said.

Buying it will promote efficiency and reduce rent and other costs by co-locating city services, he said.

Initially, about 70 employees in the Engineering Services Division of the Public Works/Utilities Department, now at 531 Westgate Blvd., would move into the 355,000-square-foot Experian building.

Other city agencies that now lease space also would move into the building within the next six months. Those include Urban Search and Rescue, the 911 Communications radio shop and the Bureau of Fire Prevention.

Those offices and Experian staff members will use a little less than 25 percent of the building space, according to Greg MacLean, director of public works.

Eventually, the 911 Communications Center and the Lincoln Fire and Rescue Department training center would move to the building.

Public works also plans to eventually move staff now at 901 N. Sixth St., near Haymarket Park, to the building, MacLean said.

That includes street and fleet maintenance, watershed management and traffic operations.

"Ultimately we'd like to get out of the Haymarket spot. But that is not part of the initial move," he said.

At some point, MacLean said, city and Experian staff would occupy about 60 percent of the space.

Other government subdivisions also may be interested in the building, creating more opportunities for consolidation, Beutler said.

The city will buy the building, if the City Council approves, for $6.5 million and spend about $1.2 million on renovation and debt issuance costs.

The city would finance the proposal through $7.7 million in debt financing, with an expected interest rate of about 4 percent and payments of about $700,000 a year for 15 years, according to Don Herz, the city's finance administrator.

Beutler said the city expects to save about $370,000 a year on rent and would get rental income from Experian of about $380,000 a year.

That will result in $500,000 of taxpayer savings over 15 years, he said.

The building has an assessed value of $7.8 million and has been on the market for about five years.

Experian's business model changed, and the company has reduced its Lincoln workforce over the past few years, he said.

Buying the building also would eliminate the need to build new facilities for 911 Communications and Fire and Rescue training, saving about $4.5 million, the mayor's office said.

That more than offsets the loss of more than $2 million in property taxes over 15 years that would be paid if a private business owned the building, MacLean said.

"This is a golden opportunity," he said.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission will discuss the purchase at its 1 p.m. meeting Wednesday. Its recommendation will go to the City Council.

Reach Nancy Hicks at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com.

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