Montevallo Council approves purchase of old Victory property
Published 10:49 am Friday, February 15, 2019
By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer
MONTEVALLO – The Montevallo City Council voted in a special called meeting on Feb. 14 to purchase the old Victory Autos & Collision Center property for $375,000.
Following a brief discussion, the council decided to accept an offer from Warren Bailey, one of the property’s owners, for the city to pay $375,000 for the property after the city’s previous negotiations to lower the price were unsuccessful.
“As instructed, I did go back to Mr. Bailey with our offer of $350,000 based on our estimate of what some environmental cleanup expenses would be,” Mayor Hollie Cost. “He rejected that. Based on their appraisal, they’re not willing to go down on the price.”
The property was appraised at $520,000. The difference between the appraised price and the city’s cash payment of $375,000 will be a donation from the owners to the city.
With the environmental study of the property results back, the council, city clerk and environmental engineers had entered into executive session for about 20 minutes during the Feb. 11 City Council meeting to discuss the negotiation of the contract, which holds a Feb. 21 deadline.
Later in the same meeting, the council voted in favor of authorizing the mayor to finalize the purchase of the property using funds from the city’s Central State Bank money market account.
The property includes about half of the city block where the building sits—its storefront is at the corner of Main and Shelby streets—and land across Main Street and behind the police department building.
City Clerk Herman Lehman said a prospective tenant had expressed interest in occupying the space pending the city’s decision to purchase the property.
“They are eager to go,” Lehman said. “It’s just a no-brainer to me.”
Lehman said the initial discussions about the property between its owners and city leaders started well before the prospective tenant entered the picture.
“As all of this unfolded and got to where we are now, in walks this prospect that’s looking for space, and this fits exactly what they want,” he said. “We won’t know for sure what the potential tenant will want to do (to the building) until we own it and do some architectural work to it.”
The potential tenant, whose name has not been released, wants to be open in September, Lehman said.
Councilman Jason Peterson said he supports the purchase at $375,000, and Councilman Matt Walker said he also supports it, even though he had previously championed dropping the price $25,000 for environmental expenses.
“That property has been an eyesore to the city for far too long,” Walker said in the Feb. 11 council meeting.
Councilman Rusty Nix gave his support, too, despite having been against the purchase in the beginning, when discussions were new and environmental factors uncertain, he said.
“We didn’t know the environmental impact, and we didn’t have this tenant knocking on the door,” he said.
Nix said the potential tenant would be a “very much-needed tenant” for Montevallo.
“I agree with Rusty (about) the impact this could have on economic development for Main Street, and to show other potential business owners that we’re serious about wanting the tenant in the area,” Councilwoman Tiffany Bunt said. “We’re ready.”
Cost said the Montevallo Main Street group sent a letter of support to the city regarding the purchase.
Montevallo Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steve Gilbert also verbalized his support of the purchase in the Feb. 14 meeting.
“This is by far the best scenario out of all of those I have heard,” he said. “From the Chamber’s standpoint, we would love to have this potential tenant in town. I think it’s a win for the city. The Chamber supports this purchase.”
Lehman said the city plans to keep the building, a solid structure he said was “built like a tank.”
“The building’s in good condition,” he said. “We want to preserve the historical character of the downtown, and that’s part of it.”