Richland County’s former Central Magistrate Court building at 1400 Huger St. in Columbia is under contract for purchase, less than a year after court employees there moved into the new Decker Center on Decker Boulevard. The Huger Street property is more than 50 years old and would have required extensive repairs and renovations to be functional for other County operations. The building remains vacant.
Following are a few facts about the 1400 Huger St. site and how County-owned property, in general, is sold:
· Only County Council can approve the sale of County-owned property.
· County Council directs staff to carry out the sale of property, which can be handled through:
o A broker: The broker lists the property and incurs a fee of up to 8 percent of the sale price.
o Letter of intent: A potential buyer submits a letter of intent, stating interest in the property and an anticipated offer price. This method saves taxpayers the broker fees.
· The County has been contacted by several parties interested in the Huger Street property, as stated in a Council motion approved in November 2013:
o “Due to active interest from several commercial real estate firms … I move that the Administrator move forward to secure an appraisal of the property as a preliminary step to disposing of said property once the Decker Center project is complete ...”
· On Feb. 4, 2014, Council directed staff to proceed with obtaining an appraisal of the Huger Street property. An appraisal was completed in April 2014, valuing the property at $3,100,000.
· As plans proceeded with the completion of the Decker Center and an employee move-in date drew near, a second appraisal of the Huger Street property was completed Sept. 7, 2016. Employees moved into the new Decker Center facility in December 2016.
· The Huger Street property was appraised for $3,880,000.
· The County received a letter of intent on Sept. 9, 2017 to purchase the property. Upon receipt, staff sought direction from Council during its Sept. 12, 2017 meeting.
· At the Sept. 12 meeting, by unanimous vote, Council directed the County Administrator to proceed with accepting the letter of intent on the property and the subsequent contract for the sale of the property was drafted.
· A purchase agreement was signed Oct. 18 in the amount of $4 million; more than the appraised value.
· The property is under contract, as the buyer is conducting the due diligence process. This process can take up to 120 days.