Sharpe Inks Second Deal for Community Center

BLYTHEWOOD – At a special called Blythewood Town Council Meeting Tuesday night, Council passed an ordinance to authorize the mayor to execute a contract, dated Dec. 31, 2012, to sell the 5-acre Blythewood Community Center property to Sharpe Properties, LLC for $1.5 million. That’s less than half the $2.65 million that the Town contracted to sell the property to Sharpe for a year earlier.

Under the new contract with the Town, Sharpe Properties, which is owned by Larry Sharpe of Blythewood, paid $150,000 in earnest money that was applied to the purchase price. Another $350,000 is due at closing, set for Jan. 31, and the remaining $1 million financed by the Town with a one-year purchase money mortgage, is to be paid in two installments: $500,000 (plus accrued interest) by June 30 and a final payment of $500,000 (plus accrued interest) by Dec. 31, 2013.

According to the contract, the interest rate will be equal to the short-term applicable federal rate for January 2013. The contract stipulates that if, after an inspection period that ends Jan. 21, Sharpe determines that the zoning on the property is unsuitable, he has the option to terminate the contract and receive a refund of his earnest money.

Sharpe let the first contract, signed Nov. 16, 2011, expire on Oct. 27, 2012 after three extensions. In backing off that contract, Sharpe cited concerns he had about zoning issues and future projects planned by the Town that might negatively affect the property’s marketability. Sharpe told The Voice that he was particularly concerned about the Town’s plan to build a road through the property and a roundabout (traffic circle) at one corner of the property. He also had questions about how the new Town Center District zoning and any future widening of Blythewood Road might negatively impact the property. Last August, approximately 10 months after Sharpe signed the first contract, Council passed an ordinance requiring buildings constructed on six specific intersections in the Town to be built three stories high. Sharpe said he owned properties at five of the named intersections. The Community Center property was one of those sites. Sharpe said he was unaware the ordinance was in the offing when he agreed to purchase the property. Two months later, Sharpe did not renew the contract.

A month following the expiration of the contract, Council voted to scale the zoning ordinance back to a timetable that would not require three-story buildings until Jan. 1, 2018. Town administrator John Perry cited developers’ push back against such requirements under the current economic climate as the reason for amending the ordinance.

In an interview with The Voice on Tuesday, Sharpe said some negotiation is ongoing with the Town government as to whether the Town still plans to build a road through the property and whether it still plans to build a roundabout at the corner of the property. Sharp said that was yet to be settled, but he said he and the Town had reached an agreement regarding compensation for any negative impact the future widening of Blythewood Road might have on the property and its improvements.

Mayor J. Michael Ross announced at the October Town Council meeting that the Town was going to have the property reassessed before putting it back on the market. When asked about the amount of the second assessment, Ross told The Voice that the Town’s attorney, James Meggs, had arranged the assessment and that Meggs had recommended that he (Meggs) not divulge the assessment amount to Council members. The mayor told The Voice that he (Ross) negotiated the second contract with Sharpe without knowing the new assessment of the property.

Prior to the first sale, the property was assessed at $2,125,700 by commercial real estate agent and appraiser Jake Knight, who was subsequently hired by the Town Council to market the property for an asking price of $2.75 million. Council voted to pay Knight a guaranteed monthly fee of $1,500 for up to 18 months. Since Knight had the option to represent both the buyer and the seller, he would also receive a 4 percent commission in addition to the guaranteed monthly payments. When Sharpe’s sales contract expired in October, the Town had paid Knight $27,000 plus expenses. Under the second contract, Sharpe has agreed to pay Knight an undisclosed amount for his sales commission. According to Perry, the Town has no further obligations to Knight.

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