Owners of former courthouse still seeking tenants

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A Washington state tire company that purchased the former federal courthouse in downtown Billings has yet to find a tenant for its office and retail space.

Colorado Tire Corp. spokesman and Helena attorney KD Feeback said the Tacoma, Wash.-based company has hired a manager for the five-story building and began offering "free office improvement designs" in September to any group that signed a long-term lease.

Colorado Tire declined to say if anyone has taken the offer, but Feeback said a number of businesses and organizations have expressed interest and the offer still stands, The Billings Gazette ( http://bit.ly/1cHlc0k) reported.

Colorado Tire submitted a $3.275 million bid for the James F. Battin Federal Building on May 12 and completed the purchase on Aug. 1 after several extensions of the payment deadline, according to information gathered in a public records request.

Asbestos contamination in the Battin building led to the construction of a new $80 million federal courthouse in Billings. Documents the Gazette obtained related to the 2013 sale indicate Colorado Tire may not have understood the extent of the asbestos contamination in the building.

After the sale was final, Feeback wrote to the U.S. General Services Administration saying he understood that "the paint used in the basement and parking garage is where the asbestos occurs and that it was remediated by GSA prior to sale."

The GSA responded by saying the asbestos had been removed from the ceiling of the parking garage, but that it remained in the basement maintenance shop and throughout the rest of the building.

In various notes throughout the summer, the GSA confirmed it maintained an active asbestos management plan "to ensure the property was safe for occupancy" and provided Colorado Tire with a document that said if the asbestos management plan was kept in place, the building would continue to be safe to occupy.


Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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