Friday, December 17, 2010

EDA makes counter-offer to Anderson on Midway Station, sets Dec. 23 deadline for reply

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority decided today to make a formal counter-offer to the potential commercial and residential developer of Midway Station, the authority's failed industrial park on the north side of Interstate 64. The authority asked Dennis Anderson of Anderson Communities to reply to the counter-offer by Thursday, Dec. 23.

Anderson signed a contract to buy the property by last Dec. 1, then got a one-year extension, but did not close the deal by the deadline. He proposed a five-year agreement, then after negotiations offered a written agreement with a three-year term, EDA Chairman Michael Duckworth said in an interview. Duckworth said EDA's counter-offer has "some other terms and conditions we have amended" in the counter-offer. The authority discussed the matter in closed session to keep most details of the negotiations confidential.

"We’ve been negotiating for about six weeks trying to get something together," Duckworth said. "We just didn’t feel his offer was equitable enough." One potential sticking point is whether Anderson will continue to pay the interest on the bond issue used to buy the property, interest that was costing Midway and the county about $500,000 a year until the last agreement with Anderson.

Outgoing Midway City Council Member Charlann Wombles, right, Midway's appointee on the authority board, raised that issue at a council meeting last month. Wombles said today that if Anderson does not respond by Dec. 23, she assumes that the deal will be dead. "If he’s going to respond he should respond by the 23rd," she said.

Duckworth said, "We think as long as there's negotiation, there's potential for keeping the deal alive. I wouldn’t say the deal is dead yet, but there's potential for it looking a little different."

Both Anderson and the EDA have an interest in keeping the deal alive. He has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in it, and the authority has few if any other prospects for purchase of the property or individual tracts. "This economy's tough right now and commercial property is just stangnant," said Duckworth, a Versailles banker. He said Anderson has been able to ride out the recession because he has "always been kind of a buy, hold and develop company. He's always kind of gone toward a slower approach to development."

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