The much anticipated sale of the city-owned property at 422 N. Main St. to Bill Martin and Lance Smith could be finalized when the Hannibal City Council meets Tuesday night at city hall.
Twice already this year the deal has been put on hold. On Jan. 2 the buyers requested more time so the final terms could reviewed by their legal counsel. Two weeks later the City Council tabled the matter so a counter offer could be reviewed by Lemon.
From his perspective, Lemon says most of the hurdles have now been cleared.
"In my opinion we have resolved all but one issue and I don't have a particular problem with it, but it is something I feel like the Council should tell me if they're OK with it or not," he said.
That lone item has to do with attorneys' fees.
"It was a provision that if something went bad where we had to enforce (and take control of the property again), they would agree to pay our attorneys' fees. They have requested to remove that from the standpoint that the city is represented by an attorney to whom they pay a flat fee to," explained Lemon. "One way or the other it's not going to be that big of an issue to the city. It (including the provision) was more standard language so I don't have a problem with removing it. But when I'm spending someone else's money I didn't feel like I had the authority to just take it out. As long as the Council is OK with it, I'm OK with it."
The counter proposal submitted to the city on Jan. 15 contained over a dozen changes, according to Lemon. Many of the revisions went back to how the contract was originally drafted, according to Lemon.
"When they first approached us their proposal was an 'as is' cash deal, so that's the contract I drew up. I think they then talked to a lawyer who said, 'Are you crazy? You need to have inspections. You need to have a title search,'" he said. "The bulk of their changes were things of due diligence which quite frankly I can't fault them for in a commercial deal. It's just not what they originally proposed so obviously those provisions were not in the contract originally. But nothing they have proposed along those lines was particularly unreasonable. There was a bit of haggling back and forth in regard to covenants and restrictions, and we've come to an agreement on that."
Another change, according to Lemon, has to do with what the city will be paid for the property. It was initially announced the sale price would be $225,000. However, in the proposal before the Council on Jan. 15 that amount was reduced to $223,152 because of damage to the building.
Page 2 of 2 - "My understanding is the price has returned to the price we had in the original contract," said the city attorney.
The city agreed to pay $220,000 for the former Murphy Motors property at its Oct. 16 meeting.
If the sale contract is indeed approved Tuesday night, it could still be weeks before the property changes hands.
"Since they have added due diligence provisions, inspections, etc., etc., obviously the closing won't occur until after that. I would anticipate (closing) somewhere in the 30- to 60-day range, but that's just a guess. Obviously they need to have an appraisal done and do some other things now that we've added those provisions in," said Lemon.
The developers hope to convert the former car dealership into the Moses Bates Mercantile & Pub. The stated "centerpiece" of the project will be a micro-brewery.