BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – This week the City of Beckley held a vote on the Zen’s Café property located downtown on Neville Street.
There were three votes for yes and three for no, with one councilman abstaining due to conflict of interest.
Mayor Rob Rappold then stepped in to break the tie as the seventh vote and voted in favor of purchasing the property and nearby parking lot for $1,110,000. He believes the property will serve as an investment for the community.
“We just felt like that for a number of reasons that it would be an appreciating asset,” Rappold said. “It’s not something we’re gonna buy today and watch it depreciate.”
The city’s current plan is to lease the building to a Greenbrier County business called Fruits of Labor. They plan to operate a restaurant in the space that focuses on hiring people recovering from substance use.
Those in favor of the purchase think it will be a long-term investment in adding foot traffic to the downtown area while helping their community recover from drugs.
Other council members who voted no believe the purchase to be a costly mistake. They’d rather see the money go towards other community development initiatives.
Councilman Cody Reedy voted no on the purchase. He was strongly against buying the property outright and leasing it without any down payment.
“There’s tons of other businesses within the city that pay B&O tax, which is part of the reason we have excess money to make purchases like this,” Reedy said. “And I think it’s just kind of a slap in the face to business owners.”
Reedy also said that the $1,000,000 could ideally instead have gone to a rec center, which he believes the community strongly needs.
In the coming months, the city will take over the property and has plans to upgrade the nearby parking lot as the new restaurant gets underway.