INDEPENDENCE -- A Salem developer and the city are experiencing a hiccup in a deal for a municipally-owned lot just north of the Riverview Park Amphitheater.
The city has a $210,000 offer on the table from Matthew Lind, owner of Facet Real Estate, to purchase an unused auto garage at 87 S. Main St.
The two sides signed off on a memorandum of understanding in June that spelled out a scenario in which a trust deed would be put into escrow and released to Lind once installment payments over five years were made and other conditions were met.
But the parties have since drafted separate sales contracts. In the city's version, it holds onto the title. That would allow Independence officials to take back the property on the smallest default, and afford the buyer no protection, Lind said.
Interim City Manager Ross Schultz said Independence's legal counsel advised that the city should use its own agreement on general principle. A trust deed also creates the potential for endless delays on payments, Schultz said.
He noted the city is experiencing a squabble on one property it dealt in 2008, the former senior center at 1004 Monmouth Street.
The buyers of that building, Darren Limbert and Sheila Kelly, are "substantially" behind in payments, Schultz said. In a negotiated land use with that party, the city didn't hold onto the title.
"The people that are there have declared bankruptcy and have claimed a homestead exemption," Schultz said. "We're not getting any value from that property whatsoever."
Lind said he understands the city's position. At a council meeting on July 13, however, he stressed that he wasn't a "fly-by-night" operation and reiterated his investment in the property since making an offer on it two years ago.
Lind said he's paid for design work for a short-term concept that would overhaul the existing building as a seasonal event center, and a long-range plan to build a larger building there when the economy rebounds.
"The relationship with the city has been positive," Lind said. "My argument has been we need to make this happen because that site is coming into its eighth year of not being used, and it's in the center of town."
The city council is expected to vote on a renegotiated contract on Tuesday, July 27.
"I'm confident we can get a deal done," Councilor Jim Kirkendall said. "We just need compromise in both parties."