City ends contract to purchase downtown property
Hours before the Downtown Revitalization Summitt Feb. 26, records show the City terminated a contract to purchase downtown property that was discussed that evening as an important part of a downtown facelift for Liberty Hill.
City Manager Greg Boatright explained this week that Mayor Connie Fuller signed a contract termination notice for the James Burnett property at 902 Loop 332 because the seller wanted the City to pay a non-refundable fee in exchange for more time requested by the City to receive soil test results. He said the $2,000 was not refundable and would not have applied to the purchase price.
Boatright said the City requested an extension until March 9 so that it could receive the results of soil tests on the property. He said years ago, the property was home to a laundromat and the tests were done to determine if phosphorus from soap was present.
“There is probably nothing there, but we needed to do our part so we could use the property for its intended purpose,” he said.
The City contracted with a company to take samples and had 25 days to do it, but the process was delayed by inclement weather, Boatright said.
The seller said the additional money was requested in exchange for the additional time.
“I don’t think we would have been doing the right thing if we just gave them $2,000 of taxpayers’ money without the promise of a refund if the soil samples came back with problems,” Boatright said.
He said the City is still very interested in the property, and it was discussed at the public meeting because officials are still hopeful that a new contract can be negotiated.
“We are still open to purchasing the property. We just needed time on our end to do what we needed to do,” Boatright said.
Boatright said the City offered $135,000 for the lot, but since the contract was terminated, the advertised price has increased t $199,000.
At the public meeting last week, the audience saw a slide presentation that contained an image of a landscaped intersection at Loop 332 and CR 279. The roundabout contained a sculpture, sidewalks and landscaping throughout and was presented as an idea for a gateway to the downtown area. The Burnett property is situated at the intersection.
Boatright said the City’s plan for the gateway can still be accomplished without purchasing the Burnett property. In April, the City closes on property, known as the Bell property, on CR 279 and Loop 332.