OAKDALE -- Chocolate has been cheap at the Hershey visitors center in downtown Oakdale.
The sale -- 25 percent off chocolate and 75 percent off merchandise -- precedes the center's inevitable close, after the company announced earlier this year that it will be shutting down its Oakdale factory and opening shop in Mexico.
Shoppers have cleared most of the place. Soon, not even the familiar Hershey logo will remain. It likely will be replaced by a city of Oakdale sign.
The city has agreed to buy the building for $650,000. Before offering it to the city at that price, Hershey had tried unsuccessfully to sell the building at 120 S. Sierra Ave. for $1.1 million, according to real estate company CB Richard Ellis.
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"The agreement will enable the city to continue to use the building as a centerpiece of our downtown," said Mayor Farrell Jackson.
The center, which opened in 1990 and was designed by Oakdale-based architect Harvey Sanchez, will officially close Saturday.
City officials plan to convert the 5,400-square-foot center into temporary offices, with minimal interior improvements, for the Community Development and the Parks and Recreation departments. Both departments are housed in temporary modular buildings.
Eventually, they will move to City Hall, after Oakdale's new civic center is completed. That could be five years, City Man- ager Steve Hallam said.
The city will decide what happens with the building from there, Hallam said.
When the city is ready to sell the building, it will be looking for a business that would benefit from and fit into a neighborhood with Wood Park, the Cowboy Museum and restaurants, Hallam said.
The city expects to take over the building in mid-February, after the agreement of sale is processed, Hallam said.
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2382.