City ready to finalize purchase of home behind fire station

— For more than a year and a half, city officials have been attempting to purchase a home behind the fire station being constructed on Court Street.

After finally agreeing in December to purchase the property at 1140 Brownell St. from Helen D. Morgan, the city council twice granted extensions to the deadline to close on the home in order to allow Morgan time to find a new residence.

Now, with the latest extension set to expire on Friday and the city ready to finalize the purchase agreement for the property today, officials might need to request a third extension if Morgan can’t get into her new home soon. It’s currently in foreclosure and owned by a bank.

“This would be the third amendment to the purchase contract,” city engineer Chuck Lane told the council during a Monday workshop. “All three amendments have been requested by the seller to give her more time to find a home.

“Well, she’s found a home. The house is in foreclosure and is bank-owned, and the bank has been the cause of this most recent delay.”

The potential for a third extension could be yet another setback in what has been a long process in the city’s attempt to purchase the land that abuts the new firehouse property.

In 2011, when the city was in the design phase of the project, it negotiated with the homeowner to buy the parcel. But after the other side suggested a price of $135,000 for the parcel appraised at $55,000, the city broke off those talks.

Once it became clear the city wouldn’t purchase the home, the project went ahead as planned, with the idea that the new station basically would surround the house.

The situation admittedly is not ideal for either side, but officials expressed reluctance to pay so much for the extra land just to placate the property owner.

The homeowner approached the city late last year and offered to sell the property for $92,000. The city agreed with a stipulation that the deal be done by Jan. 31, with the potential for a 60-day extension if the homeowner was unable to find a new residence in that time.

On April 9, the date was amended to May 16, and on May 27, a second amendment pushed the deadline to July 18.

But with that deadline expiring this week, and the city set to finalize the purchase and the homeowner ready to close on a new home, officials hope everything will work out and there won’t be any need to grant yet another extension.

“We are scheduled to close on this home on Thursday,” Lane said earlier this week.

“If successful, we won’t need this amendment to be executed and we’ll pull the item from the (council meeting) agenda on Thursday. If we fail to close on Thursday, then the item will remain.”

The purchase, and subsequent demolition, of the home would not only allow the city to gain the 6,200 square feet the house occupies, it also would free up an additional 5,400 square feet of property the city that is adjacent to the house. The city intended to leave the property as green space. However, if the city purchases the home, the city’s property could be used for additional parking.

The city council meets at 6 tonight in its chambers in city hall, 112 S. Osceola Ave. Citizens may address agenda items, or they may speak at the beginning of the meeting on issues not on the agenda.

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