July 14, 2005

Memphis Council Reviews Needed Repairs For City-Owned Properties

The June meeting of the Memphis City Council had all the makings of a real estate convention as the greatest part of the agenda was devoted to the city’s various properties.

Owners from Little Fox Outdoor Shop had contacted the city regarding needed repairs on their building’s air conditioning system.

The hunting and fishing supply retailer previously entered a lease/purchase agreement with the city for the store’s current location on the south side of the city square. The site, which had formerly housed Dollar General, was donated to the city by owner Joan Mankopf two years ago.

Alderman Ron Gardner indicated he had discussed the situation with the city attorney and had found no provisions in the contract that required the city to be responsible for maintenance at the site.

“The purchase price included a $5,000 buffer to help the purchaser get the building up and running, so the city has already made concessions to help get the business going,” Gardner stated.

Mayor Mike Stone told council members that he had made several attempts to contact the property owners without success.

Alderman William Reckenberg noted concerns that the business might be planning to relocate raising questions of the future of the lease/purchase agreement.

The city contract indicates that the property may not be sub-leased without city approval.

The council voted 4-0 to take no action on the request for air conditioning repairs at the building.

The second real estate matter involved the former garment factory building located on East Monroe Street across from Hopkins Lumber.

The building, which is rented by Miller Manufacturing, is in need of major roof repairs.

Superintendent Roy Monroe presented a pair of estimates for repairing the structure. He indicated a metal roof would cost approximately $24,000 while a higher-dollar insulated material would run approximately $40,000.

“Either way you go, it will be pretty expensive, but you are at the point where you’re going to have to do something,” Monroe said.

Monroe told the council it had three options, repair the roof, sell the building as it is, or tear it down before it becomes a safety hazard.

Alderman Gardner noted that Miller Manufacturing had been at the site for six or seven years and had always been prompt with payments.

“I have to say that Ernie (Miller) has been a very patient tenant,” Gardner said. “The roof has been a problem for some time, but he’s never complained.”

However the cost of the repairs had council members concerned. Alderman Teresa Skinner questioned if the building was worth installing a $25,000 roof. She noted that there is no guarantee of future income from the site.

“If you had an industry going in down there, then no question in my mind, that would be the way we would want to go,” Gardner said about fixing the roof.

Gardner questioned how much it would cost to tear the building down, noting the costs could make the estimates for a new roof more attractive.

Mayor Stone questioned if the building could be sold, as is.

Gardner stated that would not be fair to the current tenant. “I would say in the defense of the renter, that is not the way we want to treat people. He’s been a good tenant.”

Alderman Lucas Remley favored making the roof repairs.

“Even in the event the current tenant leaves the building at some point in the future, at least the city still would have a viable place to rent to future businesses,” Remley stated. “If we try to sell it, it will take time and it will further deteriorate and then we’ll be stuck with a pile of junk.”

Ultimately the council agreed and voted 4-0 to solicit bids for repairing the roof.

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