City Board Accepts Lower Price For Land Under Walnut Commons Apartments

Monday, June 19, 2017

A city board on Monday agreed to accept a lower amount than the city had earlier calculated for the land under the Walnut Commons Apartments.

The board of the Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corporation (CDRC) voted to accept $970,000 from the current owners.
It was earlier given a value of $1,119,457 by the city, according to Helen Burns Sharp of Accountability for Taxpayer Money.
She said no explanation was given for acceptance of the lower amount.
Voting in favor of the resolution were Stacy Richardson, Daisy Madison, David Dalton and Julian Bell, III. Jerry Mitchell abstained. 
Ms. Sharp said, "The 2007 land lease agreement between the CDRC and Walnut Commons LLC outlines how to calculate the purchase price. ATM assumes this is what the city finance department used when they calculated a purchase price of $1,119,457. This leaves one to wonder if they backed down because the company did not want to pay the amount due or disagreed with the city's calculation.

Ms. Richardson asked why the discussion was happening in a public meeting rather than in an attorney client meeting. Valerie Maleug from the city attorney's office said the public forum was appropriate since there was no pending lawsuit. 

Ms. Sharp stated of the vote, "The sweetheart deal continues. Today's Gift: Reduced purchase price. Past Gifts: No property taxes for 14 years. Only PILOT since 2008 not to pay school taxes. No parking garage, which was required in two agreements. No set aside of any units for low and moderate income persons, which is the public purpose in state law allowing tax breaks for housing. Permission to flip the membership interest, with the tax break, from a Tennessee LLC to a Nebraska LLC and now reportedly to a South Carolina LLC, using our taxpayer dollars as a bargaining chip in the private negotiations. 

"Thanks to the Chattanooga City Council for their good work last year on the Housing PILOT program. Another Walnut Commons is unlikely. 

"Thanks to Valerie Maleug in the city attorneys office for upholding the spirit of the Sunshine Law."

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