Less than a week after Mayor Brent Lambert told East Ridge News Online that the city would have to pay about $425,000 to get a restriction lifted from a piece of property it is selling to developers, the price has jumped by almost 30 percent.
According to a press release issued by Mayor Lambert on Memorial Day, the city will have to pay $603,000 to the Tennessee Department of Transportation in order to turn over 1.9 acres of land to Exit 1 LLC, where the future home of Bass Pro Shops is planned.
The release states that an official copy of the appraisal was delivered to the city on May 20. City officials understood the land’s appraised value was about $603,000. However, the appraisal document showed this figure actually represents the amount that is to be paid to the State of Tennessee.
On May 19, during an interview with East Ridge News Online, Mayor Lambert told this reporter that the city received the appraisal on May 8. He said he called TDOT officials on the following Monday or Tuesday, May 11 or May 12, and asked “what’s going on.” According to Lambert, TDOT officials called him on Wednesday morning and said that the news “is not good.”
Mayor Lambert did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
“Based upon our city’s strong financial standing, we have the ability to pay what the state requires in order to lift the restrictions and allow economic development to take place on this property,” Mayor Lambert states in the press release.
The release states that Lambert expects the full $603,000 to be reimbursed to the city “through the state’s share of sales tax dollars generated inside our city.”
East Ridge bought the former fire hall property from TDOT in 1999, records show. The city paid a negotiated price equal to 29 percent of the appraised value and accepted the restriction that the property could only be used as the site of a fire hall. TDOT agreed to lift the restrictions but decided the city would have to pay 71 percent of the land’s current appraised value.