On Monday, the Common Council introduced a resolution authorizing the mayor to sell at public auction 405 Warren Street.
Readers may remember that this building had been sold at public auction once already, on June 1, 2013. Martha Martinez, legal assistant to Galvan attorney Mark Greenberg, who was representing Galvan Partners at the auction, bid the price up to $354,000 from a minimum opening bid of $264,041.87. Since June, although two closings have been scheduled, Galvan never followed through on the purchasing the property.
The problem, it seems, was with the title. The City seized the property for nonpayment of taxes. Godfrey Forbes, whom the City recognized as the owner of the building, maintained that the building was owned not by him but by his church, the Holy Temple First Church of God in Christ, of which he is the founder and pastor. According to Forbes, the building was exempt from property taxes and therefore could not legally be seized by the City for nonpayment of property taxes because none were owed.
When the resolution was introduced on Monday, the question was asked if the legal issues surrounding the building had been resolved. City attorney Cheryl Roberts indicated that the issue was still in court, but "private parties would like to purchase this property even though there is a court date."
Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) asked if the down payment made by Galvan was going to be returned. He was told that it was "still an open question."
Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) said that he wanted to see language in contacts for foreclosure auctions "to indicate that the binder will be forfeited if the winning bidder walks away." He also wanted to "prohibit winning bidders from being people who are hoarding property," saying that hoarding property "deteriorates the city's value."
Haddad suggested that a winning bidder should be required to have "a window during which rehab must begin." Council president Don Moore concurred, saying that the City has a responsibility to its citizens when it sells City-owned property. He went on to speak of "covenants on the use of property, consistent with strategic plans and vision plans, as well as zoning," and a time line in which property should be developed and put back into use.
The resolution, which will be before the Council for a vote on Tuesday, January 21, indicates that the public auction will take place on February 14, which is a Friday. Foreclosure auctions typically take place on Saturday. The minimum bid for the property has been set at $305,774.11--more than $40,000 more than minimum bid required when the building was auctioned in June.
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