Thursday, December 23, 2010

Deal to turn Midway Station into a commercial and residential development is dead

UPDATE, Jan. 6: EDA and Anderson have signed a new deal.

The would-be developer of Midway Station has refused a counter-offer made by the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, killing the deal and leaving the EDA, the county and the City of Midway with no prospects for property sales to cover their interest payments on the failed industrial park.

EDA Chairman Michael Duckworth said today that developer Dennis Anderson of Lexington verbally declined the counter-offer yesterday. Anderson had signed a contract to buy the property for a commercial and residential development after EDA was unable to sell it for industrial use and a proposal to relocate Lexington's Bluegrass Stockyards on the site ran into opposition from some Midway citizens.

Anderson first had until Dec. 1, 2009, to close the deal, but was granted a one-year extension. In recent weeks he sought a multiple-year extension, which EDA was willing to grant on certain terms depending on the length of the extension. EDA wanted the right to offer the property to other buyers, with a 60-day right of first refusal for Anderson, but he wanted 180 days, which would allow him to keep anyone else from buying the property, Duckworth told The Woodford Sun for the paper printed yesterday.

"The banks were generally in supprt of trying to do the three-year option with Anderson, but the terms weren't really equitable to the EDA," Duckworth told the Midway Messenger. He said annual interest payments on the property have declined with interest rates, to $138,000, but the EDA only has enough money to pay the interest for about 14 months. That means the city and county governments "will have to step back in" financially, he said.

Finding another buyer "will be extremely difficult in this economy," Duckworth said. "These economic conditions are more challenging than I think anyone wants to admit." He said economic-development professionals have told him that "in this economy, you almost have to give away the property" to get it developed. "Until this economy turns around there's really nothing short of giving it away that's a viable option."

Duckworth said he has resigned from the board, effective Dec. 31, because he told Versailles Mayor Fred Siegelman, who appointed him, that he would serve until business with Anderson was completed. The board has three members appointed by the Versailles mayor, three by the county judge-executive and one by the Midway mayor. That is Charlann Wombles, who is leaving the city council at the end of the year but will remain on the EDA board.

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