Many in the neighborhood have been concerned about the status of the blighted building at the corner of Cox Street and Young Avenue. We are happy to have some positive news to share.
The property owner, Ms. Sandra Alderson, and her daughter appeared in Environmental Court for their initial hearing on Sept. 5, 2013. It quickly became clear to me that this blighted property was not due to an owner who was careless.
Since the passing of the original owner, Mr. James Summerall of Summerall Electric, the property has been in limbo due in large part to the fact that Ms. Alderson did not believe that she had clear title. The house has caused Ms. Alderson, who is elderly, and the family much stress and duress as to how to proceed with addressing the situation and remedying past due taxes.
After the last meeting in Environmental Court when Ms. Alderson and her daughter were told that they have title to the property, Ms. Alderson chose to sell the property.
An investor from California by the name of Ron Evans expressed a desire to purchase the property. Although he is based out of California, Mr. Evans has purchased and renovated many Memphis residences that were blighted.
On Jan. 16, I was able to meet Mr. Evans just prior to his appearance before Judge Potter in Environmental Court to give a status update on the property. He seemed very genuine in his interest to bring back the structure and create a very nice home that he could sell in what he heard was one of the best neighborhoods in Memphis.I also discovered that he is respected for his good, quality work by Code Enforcement.
Unfortunately though, there seems to be a couple of hiccups in the sale of the property that was supposed to close on Dec. 31.
When the case was called, Judge Potter requested that both Mr. Evans and I appeared before the court (much to my surprise!). Mr. Evans shared his update with the court and we found out why the property is having trouble closing. First, the title may not be completely clear after all. Ms. Alderson may have indeed been right in her assumption that she does not hold clear title to the property, so that may delay the process while research is done or require an appearance before Chancellery Court.
Also, as many neighbors to the property are aware, there used to be gas tanks buried underneath the ground in the back. These tanks were attached to pumps that Mr. Summerall used to fill up his work trucks with the electric company. According to family and some residents, these tanks were taken up in the late 1980s due to an EPA mandate.
Prudently, Mr. Evans would like an EPA report to make sure the tanks were taken up correctly and that there is no contamination. Mr. Evans would still very much like to purchase the property, but if these hurdles cannot be tackled then that might not be the outcome.
A court date has been set for March 6 when Ms. Alderson and Mr. Evans will appear to find out if these hurdles have been cleared and if Mr. Evans would like to proceed with the purchase or has already done so. Judge Potter and Attorney Steve Barlow, who brings the blight cases to court, assured the CYCA that this property will not just remain blighted forever.
Residents, we also ask that if you see the building unsecured or if you are a neighbor who starts to have trouble with raccoons as has happened in the past, that you let us know immediately by calling 272-2922. Judge Potter assured us that those issues would be dealt with immediately if they occur. We will continue to update you as we have new information.
By Kristan Huntley/CYCA