City Council votes to condemn Oakview Apartments
Move comes after attempts to purchase property fail
At their first meeting of 2015, Spartanburg City Council voted 6-0 to condemn Oakview Apartments, taking the first step in gaining control of the property for construction of a proposed T.K. Gregg Community Center as part of the Northside Initiative. The federally subsidized apartment complex is currently owned by Related Properties, a company controled by billionaire real estate developer and Miami Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross. The move comes after repeated attempts to purchase the property have failed.
Speaking to Council, City Manager Ed Memmott said the Oakview property appraised at $1,018,000, with a tax value of $1.3 million. However, Related has indicated that it wouldn't take less than $2.4 million, the amount of the property's outstanding mortgage.
Several weeks ago, the City made a final offer of $1.4 million and received no response from Related. Memmott explained to Council that using eminent domain to purchase the property is now the only path forward, and that without taking ownership of the Oakview property, the city wouldn't be able to effectively compete for a $30 million federal Choice Neighborhoods grant, a central part of Northside Initiative plans.
The process of acquiring the property will take months, and during that time, nothing will change for Oakview's residents. After the city takes ownership of the property, residents can receive Section 8 vouchers to live in other private sector housing.
Also at last night's meeting, Hub City Co-op announced that it has raised the $350,000 in private donations needed to qualify for matching funds approved by City Council last year.
With funding secured, the group plans to open the doors on South Carolina’s first cooperatively owned grocery store at 176 N Liberty St. in Downtown Spartanburg later this year after a full renovation of the long-vacant building. Under terms of the agreement, the City will provide a $200,000 zero-interest loan to the co-op, repayable over seven years, and a $150,000 grant to be paid monthly over four years.
For more on last night's City Council meeting, see the full video below as well as a roundup of our live tweets.