The deed is done – Doko Depot is sold!

Doko Depot

BLYTHEWOOD – Approximately seven years after council voted in August, 2012, to pursue an economic development project that was characterized as the site where a replica of the town’s original train depot would be built, it appears that the disposition of that replica, the Doko Depot spec building, which sits across from Town Hall, has been sold – finally – but not without one more hitch.

During last week’s regular monthly meeting, council was asked to authorize an amendment to the sales ordinance to reduce the purchase price of the building.

“I would ask that you amend the contract at the request of the purchaser to an amount of $305,000 for expenses the purchaser has incurred over the last several months due to the delay of closing,” the town’s Economic Development consultant Ed Parler said, addressing council.

That delay was due to the discovery about two years ago that the deed to the property was not clear despite the fact that the Town had paid $34,492.80 to two legal firms – Parker Poe and Winters Law Firm – for the initial legal work on the depot project. Satisfying that deed ended up costing the town another $39,922.07 ($14,639.26 to Callison Tigh law firm and $25,000 to Margaret DuBard who previously owned a portion of the property where the Depot sits).

The total cost of the project, $469,908.52, includes the $74,132.06 in legal fees plus $147,872.50 in miscellaneous expenses including financing costs, architectural costs and other expenses incurred by the Town in the fiscal year prior to construction.

In an interview with The Voice on Tuesday, Mayor J. Michael Ross said he was not happy with how much the Town had to pay to satisfy the deed for the depot.

“There’s a reason why we’re where we are,” Ross said. “I’m not sure how much of those legal expenses for the deed we can recover or if we will recover them at all,” Ross said. “But we [council] are going to discuss it in executive session at the next meeting.”

The project was originally funded through two grants totaling $456,881 from Fairfield Electric Cooperative as part of a franchise fee credit that is awarded for economic development purposes to governments and other institutions and nonprofits. Those grants plus the reduced sale price of $305,000 will leave the town with a net profit of $144,099.98 from the project.

“When the project began, the town committed to build a building for a specific client, a restauranteur who was going to occupy the building,” Parler told council last week. “This deal didn’t go forward, so council elected to build a spec building and put it out for purchase.”

The building was constructed and, after myriad delays, Don Russo, owner of Freeway Music, agreed almost two years ago to purchase the building for his own business on one end and a restaurant on the other when it was discovered the deed was not clear.  

“The town has not lost any money with this transaction,” Parler assured council. “The $456,881 used toward building the depot was grant money.”

“I would say the end result, again, is an economic development project that started with some scars and might end with one,” Ross said. “The end result, though, is that the town benefits with close to $150,000 and the people get a great music school/performers and another local restaurant.  Not all loss!”

After an executive session to discuss the matter, council voted unanimously to approve the reduction in sales price from $325,000 to $305,000.