“Not sure that will save the building. The owners are god damned Neanderthals! I met with them and they’re determined to level the building and sell the historic iron facade for its salvage value. They’ll just wait for six months.”
After a long pause, Mike said, “OK, then we need to find a purchaser willing to offer a price they can’t refuse during the next six months. By the way, each of those guys owns one of the three lots under the building. All three will have to agree on a sale.”
“Do you have any Mafia contacts? I’m ready to put out a contract on those guys, but I guess what we need is a purchase contract on the building from a capable developer.”
After leaving City Hall, I stopped by Sam Frazier’s office. Sam and his partner, Alton Parker, represented the mayor on redevelopment projects. I asked for their suggestions on how to find a purchaser. Should I retain a real estate firm, get a title report, order an appraisal? I asked if they would they assist with the contracts for these services on a pro bono basis? I was a little surprised that they readily agreed to provide whatever legal services I might need.
We spent over an hour discussing how historic tax credits, a low-interest federal loan, and the city’s facade rebate program would make renovation feasible. The conversation returned to the question of the sales price. How would I get those three old birds to agree on a price? What if they gave me a price, I find a buyer, and one of them changes his mind? Would anyone take me seriously? I offered to think about it and let them get back to work, but they wanted to continue the discussion.
Sam had an intern call to get the assessed value. He cited the sales prices for buildings within a couple of blocks from the Zinszer. Alton pointed out that additional property would have to be purchased for parking and demolition would be expensive. The value should be land value less the cost of demolition plus a little more. A developer’s major cost is the $2-3 million for renovation.
It was after 5 pm and secretaries were leaving with their purses in hand when Alton announced a proposal. “This is like any other commercial real estate deal. ONB needs an option agreement with the acquisition price specified, and you can transfer it when you find a buyer,” said Alton sitting back in his chair. Sam looked out the window and began nodding. Alton continued with greater confidence, “Sam and I will draw up an option agreement. You’ll have to get all three of them to sign it. We’ll have it for you first thing in the morning.”
I felt much better about this daunting project as I walked the office after dark. I dictated a brief, but effusive letter to Sam and Alton to thank them for their cooperation and assistance as I drove home.