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From lemons to lemonade

A Column by the Editor
My Final take on the property issue
web posted January 18, 2008
COLUMN –With the Edgefield County Council seemingly forging ahead on the purchase of the Calliham property I felt like taking a little time to gather data relevant to the properties involved. There have been so many numbers tossed around it appeared to me that a complete breakdown was needed along with a few of my personal comments. For those who do not know the difference between my personal opinion columns and news reports, this is my personal opinion column.

Money received from insurance of the former Senior Citizen Center on Church Street to date is $450,051. An additional $158,465 will be issued when the county begins rebuilding, or renovations of a building, for a total of $608,516.

The last available tax information for the building prior to the fire was showing a value of $329,011 on three and a half acres of land. No land value was found in the search of records. It was purchased by the county in December of 1975 for $50,000.

A request for how much the building was insured for, did the policy include replacement cost coverage, and when the last update on the policy was considered has not been received at this time.

Estimates to rebuild the Church Street building range between $1.2 million and $1.6 million and with a steady rise in the price of building materials at this time the price could go up before construction could begin. With the higher estimate to rebuild the county is lacking roughly $1 million. What good is insurance if the taxpayer takes a $1 million dollar hit when it is settled?

I have yet to get an answer to that one.

The current value listed for the Calliham property for last year shows a value of $275,894 and a land value of $20,196 for a total of $296,090.

The option to purchase price is $450,000.

The main building is almost 50 years old. The 4,000 square foot portion the county would take at the time of purchase is 37 years old and would conservatively cost between $350,000 and $380,000 to renovate the structure to be usable as office space. $158,000 of that will be covered by the second payment from the insurance company to settle the claim.

That brings the total cost to $608,000.

With the County acting now as a landlord, receiving a mere $2,000 in rent a month from the current occupants, it will be responsible for all maintenance and upkeep on the half-century old building. I hear it needs a new roof, but that is unconfirmed.

Within the five years following the closing, based on today’s prices, renovating the remaining 9,000 square foot building would cost at least $855,000.

This would insure that the county has to invest at least $1.5 million in the 50 year old property.

In all likelihood, the property would have to be eventually demolished and rebuilt to actually function as a government complex when the jail is expanded. Building costs alone would top $2.4 million at today’s estimates, demolition and site work would tack on a hefty bill as well, bringing the grand total to at least $4 million dollars invested in the property. Remember, the county still has the Church Street property just sitting there.

It is agreed the county is in need of acquiring the land for the inevitable expansion of the Law Enforcement and Detention Center. 

So here is a solution I feel is the most cost-effective.

Buy the property presently owned by J.P. Calliham, even at the inflated price of $450,000. The county can lease the store out as retail or office space to bring in businesses that provide jobs until it is needed for the expansion project.

Rebuild the 9,000 square foot county building on Church Street to fit present and future needs at a cost of $1.6 million, minus the $158,000 second insurance payment for a total of $1.38 million.

The county gets a new 9,000 square foot building with three acres of available parking on Church Street, ownership of property for expanding the Detention Center in the future, and all for $1.38 million. Buying the Calliham property outright from budgeted funds would lower the cost to $980,000, using the $450,000 in insurance money for what it was intended. Whoever underinsured the Church Street property in the first place should have to pay for that cost in my opinion. Then the cost is zero.

That is about the best way I can find to keep the taxpayer from being reamed any deeper than they already are in this deal, and trust me, the deal will go forward. When have you ever seen this county council heed the wishes of the people? The people have packed the chambers and even the courthouse demanding the council take an opposite direction countless times and every single time the people are ignored.

By the time it is released for your knowledge it is a done deal.

Oh, and for those who think the Church Street location is “hard to find”, make a right at the courthouse and turn right on Church Street. I can see how that can be so utterly confusing. I may have to buy a Garmin or call OnStar for turn-by-turn directions so I can find it again without a huge ball of fire guiding me.

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