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Council approves purchase bid for Rosenbush warehouse

(Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to clarify that the bid process and purchase involved only the warehouse portion of the Rosenbush building. The main building that houses the Marengo County History and Archive Museum was not sold. The Demopolis Times apologizes for this error.)

The Demopolis City Council on Thursday approved a bid allowing for the purchase of the warehouse portion of the Rosenbush building. The warehouse is located on Main Street in downtown.

Lucy Hicks, a resident of Alberta, Alabama, who has family ties in Demopolis, purchased the structure for $3,500. Those who bid on the project were also required to submit a plan that allows for the preservation and use of the building once purchased.

Hicks said she would like to utilize the warehouse in association with a community outreach program that would include elements of photography considering the Rosenbush building’s history and often-photographed Coca-Cola sign.

“I would like for the basis to be photography because that building is one of those iconic images of America. The objective is to bring to the facility education programs and to utilize photography as a way to better understand the history of the area,” Hicks said.

She added that the Penumbra Foundation, a non-profit organization that brings together the art and science of photography through education, research, outreach, public and residency programs, could be involved in organizing the educational aspect of the facility.

Hicks knows she has a long way to go in getting the building ready for any type of public use, but hopes the community will embrace her efforts.

“I will need the input and help of the community and I hope they embrace it,” she said.

Hicks adds that the first order of business is to begin the cleanup of the lot and to stabilize the structure, work she hopes will begin “as soon as possible.”

The city council had requested bids for the warehouse in the past, but did not approve any bids at that time. In approving Hicks’ bid, the council felt she had met all the conditions required.

“I think this is an excellent plan that will put the building in our downtown area to use,” said Councilmen Harris Nelson. “I’ve always felt the plan was more important than the dollar figure.”

“I hope this will inspire others to step up in the restoration of our city buildings. We have a lot of history in Demopolis and we need to preserve it if it is at all possible,” Councilman Cleveland Cole said.

The Rosenbush building and warehouse was donated to the city by Bert Rosenbush and his family in 2003. Rosenbush said on Thursday that when the building was donated to the city it was valued at $180,000.

Other items discussed by the council included:

• approving a renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding  with the Marengo County Emergency Management Agency to utilize the Demopolis Civic Center as a Point of Dispensing Site by the Alabama Department of Public Health during declared disasters.

• a report by Building Superintendent Julius Rembert that 11 additional properties have been added to the city’s dilapidated housing list. He also said that one property, on the 400 block of Washington Street, was demolished.

• approving a resolution pertaining to a Community Development Block Grant of $500,000 to allow for the construction of a rail spur for Two Rivers Lumber Mill. The cost of the project is $857,000 with Two Rivers paying the remaining $357,000 after the grant funding is applied.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 1, 5:15 p.m., at Rooster Hall.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, May 20, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)