Council settles Doko Depot deed hitch

BLYTHEWOOD – The town of Blythewood took the first steps in resolving the latest of several delays in the sale of the Doko Depot building across from city hall Monday night.

This particular delay was caused by the discovery last year that title restrictions on two slivers of land in the Doko Depot property had not been disclosed to the Town in prior financing efforts with Santee-Cooper.

Mayor J. Michael Ross put his signature to a contract presented publicly during the town council meeting that will pay Margaret DuBard $25,000 in exchange for her release of her repurchase agreement on a sliver of land that sits under one end of the Doko Depot building. The contract will also release all use restrictions Dubard had imposed by a 2001 Indenture Deed on the property.

The other sliver of land was originally conveyed to the Blythewood Volunteer Fire Depart ment 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.

The Town received both parcels for community use only. Both parcels contained reversion or repurchase clauses that kicked in when, in 2016, the town re-designated park property that include slivers of the two parcels.

The property the building sits on was recently appraised at $4.50 per square foot. According to town attorney Jim Meggs, in the past when Dubard had conveyed to the council that she reserved the right to repurchase the building, it had been at the cost of one half of the property’s ‘modern’ appraised value.

In subsequent talks, Meggs said Dubard requested the $25,000, which was slightly more than half the appraised value, and Meggs stated that he then told Dubard’s lawyer that “if we are going to go to that number, then we would want to release all of the property from the use restrictions and repurchase option”.

In an unusual move, council unanimously approved a Voice Resolution Monday night acknowledging the contract, even though the document had yet to be signed by Dubard.

Meggs told the Mayor Monday night that despite his continuous “pestering” of Dubard, she had refused to sign the contract before the town council read and agreed to the Voice Resolution which contained a clause assuring that the Town would uphold an earlier, unrelated, pledge to restructure the town’s priority list for road improvement projects under the Richland County penny sales tax program. That restructuring involved moving the widening of Creech Road to second on the Penny Tax priority list behind the McNulty Road project and ahead of the widening and improving of Blythewood Road from I-77 to Main Street, and finally to widening and improving the east side of Blythewood Road.

DuBard, who has an ownership interest in the Creech Road property, wanted to be sure that the Town would honor its prior approval of the Penny Tax priority list unrelated to the Doko Depot property.

Upon the mayor’s signing of the contract immediately after the council meeting, Meggs said he would then be able to obtain Dubard’s signature soon after.

The council had no discussion before agreeing to the resolution, with only councilman Eddie Baughman saying that he believed the council had previously “discussed this to no end” before making a motion to approve the agreement.

Upon council’s vote, Mayor Ross called attention two business owners in the audience – Don Russo of Freeway Music and John Clinger of the Old Mill Pub in Lexington – who are purchasing the Doko Depot. He thanked them for their patience with the town throughout the more than a year of delays over the fate of the Doko Depot building.

“They are committed to this town of Blythewood, to the economic development and to their economic development. If [these businesses] didn’t believe they were going to make money and be prosperous they wouldn’t be here,” Ross stated.

“They know what the potential is to have their businesses in this park.”