KEDB set to acquire property adjoining old foundry site

Rick Wagner • Nov 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Another piece of property adjoining the old Kingsport Foundry site in downtown soon is to be under control of the city.

Kingsport Economic Development Board officials said they soon will close on a real estate deal to buy less than half an acre of land called the Glutz property, former home to the Mullins-Quillen insulation business. The purchase price is $85,000.

KEDB recently purchased the old Jack’s Restaurant/Karen’s Restaurant site at 808 E. Main St. for $143,167 and is about to lease it for $2,500 a month to Robert Thompson and his daughter, Crystal Stone, who plan to open an oyster bar there.

KEDB Chairman Larry Estepp said the board decided to make an offer on the property during telephone conversations since it was discussed at the Oct. 7 board meeting.

KEDB wants control of the foundry and adjoining properties to clean it up, seed it and make a more presentable “gateway” into downtown until the property is developed, Estepp said.

The deal with Dan Glutz is pending and not technically completed, but Estepp said the $85,000 was considerably less than what had once been proposed for a purchase price.

A KEDB-paid appraisal on the Glutz property is $54,000, although the owner once wanted $240,000 — the amount of an option the foundry site owner once held on the Glutz land.

The appraisal for tax purposes on the Glutz property is $41,800, while the foundry site tax appraisal is $609,000, Estepp said.

The board last month turned down the latest proposal from New Shenandoah Co. LLC, owned by John Marrotta of Unicoi, to sell most of the foundry property and some other land Shenandoah does not own — the Glutz site — for $700,000.

Under that offer, Shenandoah would have given 1.2 acres to the city or KEDB but kept about one acre of land, including the Glutz property. Shenandoah would have kept an acre and tried to sell it for retail, Estepp said, but the pending KEDB purchase of the Glutz property means that will not happen.

Estepp said the offer from Shenandoah came through a real estate agent representing Shenandoah, and that part of the offer would be for Shenandoah to tear down buildings on the properties. However, the KEDB was asked to cover the estimated $4,000 cost of removing old tires from the Glutz property and excuse $10,000 in taxes, the latter of which KEDB officials said last month was not legal to do.

The new deal to buy the Glutz property includes giving tenants a few weeks to vacate the property before the city demolishes the old metal building there, according to Gorman Waddell, an ex officio board member and attorney working on the purchase.

After an extended discussion at the October meeting, the KEDB board decided not to accept the Shenandoah offer, instructing Estepp to respond to it by saying the KEDB was not interested in the property at the offered price and would prefer to acquire all the property.

Shenandoah, which once had options on the Jack’s and Glutz properties, at one time offered to sell all three properties for $1.5 million, while the KEDB offered $650,000.

City officials also have discussed using eminent domain to acquire the property for a public purpose.

The city earlier this year rezoned the land and other property bounded by Main, Sullivan, Market and Unicoi streets from M-2, general industrial district, to B-2, central business district, after Marrotta talked about putting a metal reclamation business on the foundry site.

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