Lubbock City Council approves plan to buy Omni Building

Published: Jul. 11, 2014 at 1:42 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The Lubbock City Council voted unanimously on Thursday night to approve a contract with Lubbock Omni Office Inc., for the city to buy the Omni Building for $1.25 million.

However, this decision doesn’t mean the city owns the building. The deal comes with a 90-day feasibility study that allows the city to get estimates for demolition and renovations.

Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson said that if the City wants to back out of the contract, they can do so for $100. The contract also allows someone from the private sector to take over the contract if the city feels they have no use for the building.

"If the city owned the building, the first thing we would look at,” Robertson said. “Is there any way to repurpose it for a police station? You know, that's one of the big issues this council is going to have to face, is replacing the PD. If we can do it in that building for half the cost of going out and building a new one, then it would be great for the tax payers. It would be great for downtown."

Robertson said the next step is for city crews to examine the building, make sure it is structurally sound and estimate the cost of removing asbestos and other materials.

The city council took no action on resolutions requesting changes in Lubbock Power and Light's budget.

Councilwoman Latrelle Joy raised concerns about violating the city's charter. It states the council can only approve a budget. After a lengthy discussion, no motion was brought forward.

“We have to do our job with their budget,” Robertson said, “and anytime you’ve got a situation within one year that the EUB can afford to give an employee a $60,000 raise after five weeks and afford to pay off almost $700,000 in a severance agreement without Council approval, we’ve got an issue. Now, it’s not their fault. It’s because this council didn’t do our job last year. I think we’re moving in the right direction over there, we just have to quit rubber-stamping the spending of tax payer money.”

The council also heard a presentation from members of the West Texas Smoke Free Coalition who are pushing for a city-wide ban on smoking. Organizers asked the council to issue an ordinance banning smoking in all indoor workplaces. They said it would protect against secondhand smoke and create an even playing field for all local businesses.

Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson said he can’t support the ordinance.

“I cannot vote for all out smoking ban in the City of Lubbock,” he said. “I’m going to fall on the side that the business and property owners need to make the decision if they want to allow smoking in their facility or not.”

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