City officials have agreed to buy back the land on which an old high school gymnasium once was located and also will refund the costs to tear it down.
Young Living Essential Oils acquired the Bon Ton building and the block on Main Street between 600 South and 700 South about two years ago. The multilevel marketing company planned to turn it into its world headquarters. Early on, the company said it would only remodel the building but later said that the remodeling wouldn't work and demolished the building. Young Living is housed in another old school building, which it remodeled into offices.The contract to purchase the Bon Ton gave the city first rights to buy back the property for the same price it sold it to Young Living, $100,000. But the City Council on Tuesday agreed to pay $210,000 for the property or risk losing it to another buyer.
"They want us to pay the demolition costs," said Keith Morey, city administrator. Mayor Gordon Taylor asked Morey if he tried to negotiate the price down. "He won't accept any other offer," Morey said, referring to Gary Young, who owns the essential oils company.
Councilman Bernell Evans said he had strong feelings about the series of events that led to the destruction of the building. "We're paying for it severely," he said before making the motion to buy the property back. Officials said they didn't want Young Living to sell the nearly vacant city block to anyone else. Only a restroom building is still standing on what was once a high school and a middle school complex. The school building was razed years ago.
Before selling the block two years ago, the city was starting to turn the land into a park.
"Our company is growing so fast that we were going to grow out of the Bon Ton property before we moved into it," said company vice president Jerry Benson. He said when the company bought the Bon Ton property it also had its eye on the adjacent horse racetrack property, but now finds that the city won't sell that land.
Benson said the company had planned on spending $12 million to develop the Bon Ton property but because of rapid growth needs more land to avoid splitting up the company's operations.