Depot sale delayed by undisclosed deed limits

BLYTHEWOOD – The sale of the Doko Depot has been delayed since December, 2017, for myriad reasons. In September, 2018, Mayor J. Michael Ross announced a new delay – this one caused by the discovery that property title restrictions had not been disclosed to the Town in prior financing efforts with Santee-Cooper.
“We are in the process of remedying this issue,” Ross told The Voice in August.
When asked last week about the progress of the remedy, Ross said the Town has not yet reached a resolution with the owners. The Town received both parcels for community use only. Both parcels contained reversion or repurchase clauses.
Those clauses kicked in when in 2016 the town re-designated park property that include sections of the two parcels.
If a resolution cannot otherwise be reached with all parties, Ross said he is looking at other options – two of them drastic – including cutting a portion of one end of the building off or moving it a few feet off the parcels in question.
Ross said one parcel was sold on favorable terms directly to the town government for community use and could be repurchased by the owner should the parcel no longer be used for community use. Records show that parcel was owned and donated by Margaret DuBard. The other parcel was originally conveyed to the Blythewood Volunteer Fire Department by Charles W. Proctor in 1971.
Proctor reserved a reversion of title if the property ceased to be used for fire department or other community uses. When a new fire station was built on Main Street, the land was donated to the Town. But the parcel was still subject to the reversion clause, documents state.
Proctor passed away in 1976, leaving no children. His wife died shortly thereafter. The heirs, Ross said, are being contacted and a civil action will be brought to determine their interests and compensation.
“According to the documents that were signed,” Ross said, “there’s not that much money involved. It’s just a percentage of the value of the land the building sits on.”
Not knowing about the title issue at the time, Council voted in December, 2017, to authorize Ross to sign a sales contract with Columbia developer Wheeler & Wheeler to purchase the property.
Last April, Don Russo told The Voice that his company, Freeway Music, was negotiating a contract to lease part of the building from Wheeler & Wheeler.
It was also announced that a popular Lexington restaurant is planning to lease the other part of the building.
Ross said on Tuesday those plans are now on hold. He further stated that the Town and Dubard have agreed to obtain an appraisal in order to get an appropriate purchase price for Dubard’s interest.
“We’re going to lose our tenants if the sale is delayed much longer,” Ross said. “So we have to come up with a plan of how to alleviate the connection of the owners with the Depot building.
“If the title to the properties had been clear when the building was built, we wouldn’t be in this fix right now. There are a lot of things we’re looking into,” Ross said.
Still, Ross said he understands the previous property owners’ perspective.
“They wanted to see the land used as a public park or other public use. The Town took the land and commercialized it in the pursuit of economic development,” Ross explained. “Now it’s a mess. We’re trying to figure out how we get around this mess.”
While the issue was discussed in executive session Monday night, Council did not discuss or vote on it in public session.