the hole file

An unidentified man walks past “the hole” across from the Atlas Theatre along West Lincolnway on July 6, 2017, in downtown Cheyenne. Wyoming Tribune Eagle/file

CHEYENNE – The Cheyenne City Council voted Monday to repeal resolutions pertaining to the “expedient development” of the historic Hynds Building downtown.

The action unencumbered $750,000 that council members pledged in 2017 for construction of a covered parking facility and to help prospective developers remodel the building, as well as the lot adjacent to the building known as “the hole.”

Those recent proposals envisioned for the building did not come to fruition.

There was no initial discussion, as the item was part of the meeting’s consent agenda. The vote on the consent agenda was 8-0, with Councilman Dicky Shanor abstaining because of a conflict of interest on an unrelated item. Councilman Mark Rinne did not attend the meeting.

However, council members discussed the issue briefly just before the meeting’s conclusion.

Councilman Pete Laybourn told members that it was time to take a look at the issue as a council and not leave the matter of developing the building to other entities in the city.

“I believe that this is a tremendous opportunity, and I further believe that we will never have the downtown we want and expect and pay for until we develop that property and deal with ‘the hole,’” Laybourn said. “This can’t go on. It’s gone on way too long.”

He added that the issue is the council’s responsibility, and the council “should respond to it in a reasonable and expedient matter so we have the answers to go forward.”

Council President Rocky Case said he hoped a solution will come forward to redevelop the building. He then went on the clarify his reasoning for sponsoring the resolution.

“The genesis of that was a $650,000 miss in the budget that needed to be rectified at the last minute related to the air service, so the attempt and success at pulling that back had nothing to do with lack of support as it relates to ‘the hole’ and the Hynds,” he said.

During recent deliberations on the city’s fiscal year 2020 budget, Case introduced and council approved an amendment that included a subsidy for commercial air service at Cheyenne Regional Airport that had been left out the original proposed budget.

The Hynds Building, which sits at the northwest corner of Capitol Avenue and West Lincolnway, is nearly 100 years old, and one of the few buildings left in Cheyenne that retains the classic Western style.

The building, which boasts more than 40,000 square feet of space, has been vacant for more than 30 years.

Because it’s an old building, it didn’t come with modern systems for delivering heat, air conditioning, electricity and the internet.

In other action

Council members voted to award a consultation and design contract to Denver-based Semple Brown Design to design proposed renovations at the Cheyenne Civic Center.

The item also was on the consent agenda.

Under the bid agreement, the company will create a conceptual design for the renovations at a cost to the city not exceeding $100,000.

Funding for the consultation project will come from 2015-18 fifth-penny sales tax funds.

Teresa Moore, director of Community Recreation and Events, told Finance Committee members last week that the design work will address several issues in the building, which was designed in 1979 and built in 1981.

Those issues, according to Moore, include Americans with Disabilities Act requirements; the need for more restrooms; antiquated stage production technology, including the loading dock and sound equipment; and inadequate performer and customer support spaces.

In addition to the conceptual design, the consultant will submit detailed cost estimates, as well as 3D visual renditions of the potential renovations.

The consultant will also incorporate findings from an ADA facility assessment report, prepared by ADA accessibility firm Meeting the Challenge, and a municipal complex pedestrian routing plan, written by consulting firm Russell-Mills.

The Civic Center contains seating for 1,496 people, with 584 orchestra-level seats, 478 loge seats and 434 balcony seats, according to city information.

Also during Monday’s meeting, council members voted 8-1 to adopt a resolution naming the future municipal court building the “Judge Joseph M. Carey Cheyenne City Center.”

Councilman Ken Esquibel voted against the resolution.

Carey was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as the first U.S. attorney for the Territory of Wyoming from 1869 to 1871, and became associate justice of the territory’s Supreme Court from 1871 to 1876.

According to the text of the resolution, Carey maintained the title of judge all his life, despite other significant political positions.

The courthouse is slated for construction at the northwest corner of 17th Street and Carey Avenue, on the site of the former historic Carey Block.

Council members also approved a revised wireless communications ordinance that establishes guidelines for siting traditional wireless communication towers and newer small wireless facilities within zone districts and rights of way.

Steve Knight is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. He can be reached at 307-633-3182 or sknight@wyomingnews.com.

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