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Hays County loses $400K in real estate sale

Thursday, February 13, 2014 by Andy Sevilla

SAN MARCOS— With the opening of the Hays County Government Center in early 2012, county employees began their exodus to the newly constructed $50 million government complex leaving four downtown county buildings empty in San Marcos.


After nearly two years on the market, Hays County has finalized the sale of the last two of four vacant properties on the San Marcos Square in December – Hays County Courthouse Annex building and the Hays County Records Building – though in one deal, the county took a $400,000 hit.


The county’s former Justice Center building and Max C. Smith building, which housed juvenile probation, were sold in 2012.


According to the Hays Central Appraisal District (CAD), the Hays County Courthouse Annex building was assessed at $1,014,380 for 2013, but the Austin-based Primus Real Estate Service purchased the building from Hays County for $622,885 on Dec. 30 – about $400,000 lower than its assessment – Hays County Auditor Bill Herzog said Monday.


Hays County Attorney Mark Kennedy said the county used Austin-based commercial real estate firm CBRE to sell the properties, and in doing so, the buildings could be sold at a less than appraised value, so long as offers were being accepted from everyone willing to bid.


And though the county took a loss with the Courthouse Annex building, Kennedy said it was the best offer fielded. He said that building had complications with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance and any new public buyer would need to bring it up to federal code.


Primus also bought the Hays County Records Building on Dec. 30 at a $40,000 mark up. Hays CAD assessed the property at $460,560 for 2013, but it sold for $500,000 in December.


Primus partner Mark Shields said in a statement that his real estate company purchased the properties after some necessary negotiations, but didn’t comment on the specifics.


“There were some minor issues that needed to be worked out to close the Annex and Records Buildings,” Shields said. “The County Commissioners and their staff, as well as the city of San Marcos were great to work with. I am very excited about these properties and the activity happening in San Marcos.”


Primus also purchased the county’s former Justice Center at 110 W. MLK Drive on Oct. 29, 2012, at $1.25 million; Hays CAD assessed that property at $1.249 million for 2013. Shields told the Hays Free Press in a telephone interview that though the building could “fairly easily” be repurposed for retail or office space, he has been in discussions with a group looking to develop a vertical development at the site.


Shields said developers for student and multifamily housing developments have voiced interest in a potential four or five story complex. He did say that though discussions are ongoing, nothing has been finalized; and for now, Primus plans on repurposing the 39,527 square-foot Justice Center building to retail or office space.


The county’s listing agent, CBRE, said in a statement that Primus is planning extensive renovations for the 1879 Courthouse Annex building at 102 North LBJ Drive. The real estate company is looking to restore the building to its original condition and make way for a restaurant on the ground floor and multifamily or office space on the second and third floors.


The Records Building at 137 North Guadalupe Street, also bought by Primus, is an 8,450 square-foot, two-story building that is slated to house two small restaurants on the ground floor and multifamily at the top, CBRE said.


Shields said Primus was interested in acquiring the downtown properties in San Marcos because the economic outlook for the fastest growing city in America – with a population of 50,000 or more – looked promising, especially with the growth the city and Texas State University is experiencing.


The Max C. Smith building at 302 W. San Antonio Street was the first county building to be sold in 2012. County records show Austin-based Muzun Investments bought the building for $386,650 in August 2012. The owners have converted the youth probation office into rental property.


Hays County still maintains ownership of the 1908 Courthouse that sits at the city’s center and still holds Commissioners Court meetings every Tuesday morning.

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