BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, EDITOR
Boyne City Commission voted unanimously to buy the Open Space for $3.24 million last week.
At an 8 a.m. special meeting held Thursday Nov. 1, commissioners voted unanimously to purchase the lakefront property located at 475 North Lake St. in Boyne City—otherwise known as the Open Space—for a total estimated cost of $3,240,455.29.
“[A]fter about at least 15 years, we’re actually on the cusp of buying the property,” Boyne City Manager Michael Cain told city commissioners at the open of the special meeting.
The property is roughly 4.7 acres with 600 feet of frontage on Lake Charlevoix.
“We’ve been working on this for quite some time,” Cain said. “It’s been kind of a goal that previous city commissions talked about in closed session for years and there were lots of discussions behind the scenes.”
The city will purchase the property from Mike Dow and Bob Grove, who bought it from the developer Devlon who had planned but failed to follow through with a condo and marina project in the last decade.
“The city used to own that property back in the 1950s,” Cain said. “They sold it for an industrial development which was there for quite some time.”
Dow and Grove bought the property in April of 2015 and have leased it since to the city for a dollar a year.
Cain said grants will pay for all but approximately $800,000 of the property’s cost.
“It’s been a slow process—a lot slower than we thought,” Cain said, adding that much of the wait has been due to paperwork and the title work on the property.
The city is expected to close on the sale at 9 a.m. on Friday Nov. 9.
“Mr. Dow and Mr. Grove have been waiting long enough,” Cain said. “They’ve been very patient working with us. They’ve had additional taxes in the meantime and we didn’t want to keep them waiting. So, that’s why we’re a little bit off our normal meeting schedule.”
Cain said there really aren’t any financial surprises other than a document which surfaced during the title search.
“It was a document that we just found out about… Earlier this week we got an email from the title company looking for closure on a development agreement that had a lien on the property that was issued in 2015,” Cain said.
According to the lien, if anyone develops a marina on that property during the five years after Devlon’s owner sold it, he would get an additional $200,000.
“We have never really talked about developing a marina at that location,” Cain said.
Discussions of putting a mooring field there have been had. But, Cain said it would be best if the city simply not do anything regarding a marina until the time period has lapsed.
“I was a little nervous when we got that communication on Tuesday (Oct. 30),” Cain said…. “If there was anything that could potentially throw our Nov. 9 closing date off target, that would probably be it but, right now at this point, everything we’ve seen is showing a clear sign.”
Cain said if the lien clause were triggered, the city would be liable for the extra cost. He also said the current owners were not aware of the lien.
The funds to pay for the property will come from three sources—Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant, a grant for $10,000 from the
Charlevoix County Community Foundation, and the balance of around $800,000 from the city’s general fund.
The $800,000 has been budgeted for and Cain said the money is still available.
The current property owners have a requirement of their own in a conservation easement through the Little Traverse Conservancy which would prohibit construction of buildings, including bathrooms, and requires the city to remove all parking lots from the land within two years and restrict the location and amount of future parking.
If all goes according to plan, the conservation easement will be executed following the property closing on Friday.
The commission then discussed how best to thank Grove and Dow for selling the property to the city.
The commission voted 5-0 to approve the purchase at the estimated amount of $3,240,455.29.