By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
HANNIBAL Mo. -- Hannibal hoped to give the old Murphy Motors building at 422 N. Main St. a new purpose, but two entrepreneurs have proposed a single business with several commercial uses.
Bill Martin announced during Wednesday's City Council meeting his intent to take the historic building and turn it into a brewpub complete with event, game and grocery space. The multiphased project would be anchored by the brewpub, which Martin hoped to open early this summer. The building's additional space would be completed over time and fill other needs in the downtown area.
Martin explained that a 2007 survey cited a downtown grocery store as a community priority. Martin and his business partner, Lance Smith, might work with tourism organizations to use some of the parking lot as a bus drop-off.
"We want to welcome people to the community, too," Martin said.
The proposal includes plans for a three-season outdoor bar. Martin noted that neither Quincy nor Hannibal currently has a similar setup.
"You have to go to Columbia or St. Louis to find an outdoor bar," Martin said.
The city bought the space Nov. 7 for $220,000 with the intention of creating parking for motor coach tour buses, expanding downtown parking, creating venue space for downtown events but also potentially reselling to a high-impact developer. The council also discussed placing an information kiosk at that location.
After the purchase, the city received a flood of inquiries from parties interested in opening a business in the building. The city advertised for business proposals in late November. Martin said he'd heard from other community members that a brewpub seemed like a viable option for reviving the deteriorating structure.
The city had placed a resolution to accept Martin and Lance's offer for $225,000 on Wednesday's meeting agenda, but City Attorney James Lemon asked that the resolution be tabled because the entrepreneurs' attorney needed more time to review the contract. Ward 2 Councilman Mike Dobson anticipated the agreement would go through.
"We're in agreement with how we want to do things," Dobson said.
After the council discussion, an audience member at the meeting, Bob Burditt, commented that the property would serve the community better as a civic center.
"The last thing I think Hannibal needs is another bar," Burditt said.
Mayor Roy Hark acknowledged Burditt's concern, but he said he would like the city to see the project through. Hark noted the city and the entrepreneurs have invested a lot of time in the brewpub discussion.