SEBASTIAN – After approximately 45 minutes of discussion amongst the five members of the Sebastian City Redevelopment Agency, three agreed to move forward with purchasing the Dabrowski property next door to the former Hurricane Harbor on Indian River Drive.
City Manager Al Minner, after the vote, said that the city would sign the option agreement for $750,000 and would close on the sale “in about a month or so.” The city would still have to perform its due diligence, including making sure the property has a clean title before the sale can close.
From there, he expects to move forward with crafting a lease agreement with Sebastian Fisherman’s Landing Inc. to operate the working waterfront. The co-op is already operating out of the Dabrowski property, according to Minner.
The lease agreement would have to go before the Sebastian City Council, which sits as the Community Redevelopment Agency, for approval.
Vice Mayor Jim Hill, supported by Council members Andrea Coy and Don Wright, voted to agree to the $750,000 purchase price for the land, which will require the city to allocate an extra $179,000 from its CRA budget to make up the difference it had budgeted for the land buys.
The vote came during the second of two CRA meetings this month to discuss and debate the fate of the working waterfront project.
Councilman Don Wright was the first Monday to express support for spending more than the appraised value to acquire the property, saying that he believed $750,000 is a reasonable amount.
He argued that the property’s commercial square foot value alone would be more than the purchase price, calculating it to be $47.67 per square foot. At 16,553 square feet, the property’s value would be $788,128.
On top of that, he said, the city would receive lease payments of approximately $18,000 annually.
“I think this is a representation of what’s the value of the property and benefit to the city,” Wright said.
Coy, who said she would support paying more for the land, cautioned the agency members that if they were to counteroffer, as Mayor Richard Gillmor had suggested, it might scare off the trustees of the property.
She reminded them how long it took to for the trustees to come to the table with an offer of $750,000, which was less than the city originally anticipated of $1.5 million.
Gillmor asked the agency to counteroffer $571,000, saying that he believed it would be in the city’s best interest to try to get as low a price as possible.
“Commercial property on the waterfront isn’t flying off the shelf,” Gillmor said, later adding, “I would hate for us, as a city, to pay one dollar more” than $571,000 because any more than that comes out of the CRA’s budget. “I think it would be a shame not to at least try. For us to just say … ‘we’ll roll over and play dead,’ I don’t think so, not in conditions like they are right now.”
The city had budgeted $351,000 to buy two parcels of land along Indian River Drive and the Indian River Lagoon, including the former Hurricane Harbor and the Dabrowski property.
The city, with state assistance, is under contract to buy Hurricane Harbor for $230,000 – the state will pay $2.3 million through the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfront Grant program for the land.
The city would have had $121,000 in the budget for the city’s share of the Dabrowski site.
Though the state appraised the Dabrowski land at $500,000, the property’s trust wanted more – $750,000. The state would approve only spending $450,000 on the land, which is 90 percent of the appraised value, leaving the city to fund the rest.