County, city get $250K windfallPublished 10:04am Friday, August 30, 2013
Tied to ownership deal for Sherman Thompson Towers
Lawrence County and the City of Ironton have each received checks for $250,000 as part of negotiations between the Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority and the company that manages the Sherman Thompson Towers.
On Monday ownership of the towers was transferred to LM Associates, the facility’s management company. The transfer was exempt from the conveyance fee, meaning no purchase price was reported.
According to Commission President Bill Pratt at the commissioners Thursday meeting, the housing authority owned the land the complex was on while LM had a lease agreement with the IMHA. In the lease was a clause stating that in 2032 the housing authority would then own the building as well as the property.
“(LM) couldn’t re-invest in the building they wouldn’t own,” Pratt said.
Eight months ago LeRoy Eslinger of LM Associates came to the commissioners to ask them to help negotiate with the housing authority to get the reversion clause removed.
For the past three years Eslinger had been negotiating with the housing authority.
“He wanted it done for nothing,” Pratt said.
The commission asked if he would agree to pay the housing authority $1 million. He declined. Then the commission asked if he would pay $500,000. He agreed.
“Much to our surprise,” the commissioner said. “The housing authority was to receive $500,000. They didn’t want to receive it and wanted to gift it equally to the county and city.”
Pratt said he doesn’t expect the money to be certified until next year, which must happen before it can be used.
“I want to thank Jim Johnson, housing director, and the current commissioners for their gift to the county and city and we intend to use that money in a frugal way to benefit all the residents in the county,” Pratt said.
Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said the city’s plans for its share of half-million is undecided.
“We are going to look to the future of the city to use this money appropriately,” Blankenship said. “We want to thank the board of commissioners for its approval on this transaction and we will do our best to develop a plan to benefit the City of Ironton.”
As far as impacting residents, Blankenship said he was uncertain.
“To my knowledge I don’t know enough about it to comment about it,” Blankenship said. “I haven’t dealt directly with the owner and metro on how it will affect them. From my understanding, it will give the new owner the ability to do some upgrades to the building.”
A call made to Johnson was not returned by press time.
“I think it will be good for them and will allow the group to do their improvements and reinvest in it,” Pratt said. “It will make (residents’) situation more stable and probably improve the building.”
In other action the commission:
• Approved the demolition agreement with T&J Associates to tear down a property at 519 Rockwood Ave., Chesapeake;
• Accepted the resignation of Pete Lunsford from full-time to part-time EMT;
• Agreed to hire Kim Dutey as a full-time EMT;
• Agreed to reduce the ADAMHS Board from 18 to 14.