Town nets $187,597 on Doko sale

BLYTHEWOOD – Town Council finalized the sale of the Doko Depot property Tuesday evening and issued information that showed the Town had a net income of $187,597 from the sale.

“From January, 2017 until September, 2017, we were involved in serious discussions with a local restaurateur to purchase the property,” Mayor J. Michael Ross said. “Unfortunately, those negotiations did not come to pass. So we approached a Columbia developer, Wheeler and Wheeler, LLC. After much consideration, Mr. Wheeler came up with a plan as well as prospective tenants and we are in the process of accepting his contract for sale,” Ross said.

Financial Summary

The proposed sale price is $325,000 for the building and land underneath and included covenants and restrictions on the current and future uses of the property. While the property is in the Town Center District (TCD), all of the TCD uses are not available to this property.

The previous Town Council and Administration approved the concept of designating a portion of the Doko Meadows Park as a business park. The first step in development was to attract an upscale restaurant which, Council hoped, would in turn stimulate other private developers to invest and construct office and/or retail in the area.

The initial plan was to construct a 5,000 square foot building and lease the facility to Sam Kendall’s, a successful restaurant in Camden. Next, the Town approached Fairfield Electric Cooperative and requested assistance through their grant program available through the Utility Tax Credit Program. The Town would borrow the balance needed to complete the building.

The Town’s received grants totaling $456,881.29 from annual Coop allocations in 2013 and 2014. Santee Cooper loaned the Town $900,000. That brought the project revenue to $1,356,881. While Town staff began pre-construction matters and final negotiations of the lease with Same Kendall that was to cover all costs borne to include the building, improvements and all other costs absorbed by the Town, there were other costs.

The Town paid $47,286 for architectural and design, $32,000 in attorney fees for the loan and $25,500 for site work. A contractor was selected and was prepared to begin.

In early 2014, newly elected Town Council members questioned the feasibility of the Town bearing the liability owning the debt and looked to the prospective buyer to do a take out at completion. Negotiations failed, and the Town elected to abandon the project as designed.

“We repaid the Santee Cooper loan principal as well as the interest payment for the year it held funds,” Ross said. “We paid $900,000 plus the $18,000 interest payment.”

The Utility Tax Credit assigned to the Town could not be returned without a severe penalty payment. In 2016, Council decided to use the $456,881 to build a spec shell building. A survey of the community concluded that a restaurant would be the most popular choice for the building.

The size of the building was reduced to meet the new budget. Lyn Rich Construction began work in the early fall of 2016 and the building was completed in late spring, 2017 at a final cost of $397,550.