Editor's note— This is the first in a series of stories about the city of Russell to be published by The Daily Independent in the coming weeks. The stories focus on economic growth, what is needed for a downtown revitalization, and long-term plans for the future.
The city of Russell got some good news recently with a private buyer's purchase of the old YMCA building downtown.
"People have bought it," said Russell Mayor William Hopkins. "It is on the tax rolls now."
Transaction records from the county clerk's office show the property was sold for $16,000 to an entity known as Assets Investment Co. out of San Jose, California. No one really knows what the new owner's intentions are -- the Daily Independent could not immediately locate a phone number for the new owners.
The property certainly has a lot of history — long-time residents of the area remember when it was one of the most happening spots in the region back in the day. It was a place that held area dances, featured a bowling alley and hosted many social events.
Today it has fallen into disrepair with broken out windows. Hopkins said it's apparent to him the new owners are committed to giving the structure new life.
"We don't know for sure," Hopkins said. "We know they have to go in there and get the asbestos out of it. They are working on it. So this is the first time since I've been around that we've had anybody willing to go in and start developing that YMCA property. It's a big lot.
"A lot of history. Railroad history," the mayor said, adding "They've bought it and they've paid the property taxes on it and the property has been changed into their name.
"Someone from Frankfort is expected to go in there, test the asbestos, see what it is going to cost them to get it cleaned up," Hopkins said. "They've cut all the trees down around it. It may not look good to a lot of people but it looks like they are making progress on it."