“We have clear title,” said Robin Scott, executive director for the McClellan Development Authority. “We can sell property, and that’s what we’re back in the business of doing.”
Howard Core Company, a wholesale dealer for violin shops, music stores and luthiers (makers of stringed instruments), purchased a 25,703-square-foot warehouse to expand its business already located at McClellan.
The company has been at McClellan since 2007 and has been interested in purchasing the property for 12 to 14 months. However, civil cases challenging the legal status of the Joint Powers Authority and its successor McClellan Development Authority made title insurance companies wary of issuing title insurance, making the purchase impossible.
The sale is the first for the newly incorporated MDA, which was set up after the JPA was dissolved to take over development of McClellan. In March, Judge Joel Laird rescinded his 2008 decision dissolving the JPA, allowing it to reorganize long enough to transfer of all its assets to the MDA and then disband. The transfer created a clear path of ownership for title insurance companies. The MDA immediately started working toward three sales — one to Howard Core, one to Alagasco and one to Coosa Valley.
Then, Anniston councilmen Ben Little, Herbert Palmore and former councilman Stan Bennett filed a lawsuit saying the MDA had not been properly formed and shouldn’t be legally recognized. The new lawsuit again halted sales as the title insurance companies refused to issue the insurance. That lawsuit was dismissed in June and after waiting out the deadline for appeal, the MDA again started work on the three sales.
The Howard Core purchase was finalized on Tuesday. It is the first to close, said Executive Director for the MDA Robin Scott.
“Alagasco we hope to close by the end of the month,” Scott said. “The Coosa Valley transfer, we hope to have that done by the end of the month.”
The JPA had agreed to sell the old Burger King building and transfer ownership of the bowling alley to Coosa Valley Regional Conservation District.
Coosa Valley lost its funding to purchase the former Burger King building, but the MDA board elected to go ahead with a transfer of the bowling alley to the group and is still working toward the sale of the other building in the future. Coosa Valley will put offices and a conference center in the bowling alley, Scott said.
In addition, Remodeler’s Outlet, a company that had purchased several properties at McClellan and developed Summerall Estates, is exercising an option to purchase three more, and a dentist is buying the old welcome center to house his dental clinic. Both those sales are from prior contracts that couldn’t be completed.
MDA Board Chairman Ronnie Smith is optimistic about the new fiscal year as development at McClellan moves forward.
“It’s probably good timing,” Smith said. “Hopefully, we see the end of the recession, we see the completion of the industrial access road and the industrial parkway.”
As word gets out that McClellan is open for business, Smith is sure the board will receive more inquiries about the property. However, the MDA will have to recover from its long inability, caused by the lawsuits, to process sales.
“We’re not out of the woods, yet,” Scott said. “It’s been a long two years.”
However, if all sales are completed the money will allow the MDA to adopt a $1.4 million budget next year, he said.
Roughly half of that budget will go to economic development, Scott said. With this sale the MDA took in $174,780, said attorney Jason Odom.
“I see the monies that we bring in for this year, a good portion of that will go to complete the planning efforts that we need,” Scott said. “Also this year, we’ll be looking hard to work with a variety of partners to figure out how we can get state and/or federal funding, so that once those design plans are complete, we can move ahead with actual construction.”
Contact staff writer Laura Camper at 256-235-3545.