Polk gets $50k offer on Jervey-Palmer building

Published 4:44pm Thursday, December 6, 2012

Upset bid process begins

After the Town of Tryon decided not to take ownership of the Jervey-Palmer building, the Polk County Board of Commissioners received a $50,000 bid on the property.

County commissioners met Monday, Dec. 3 and accepted the offer as well as agreed to advertise for upset bids. Any government owned property that receives an offer to purchase must go out for upset bids. If there are no higher bids of at least five percent more on the property, the property can be sold to the first bidder, Jerry Thomas.

“I have in hand an offer for the Jervey-Palmer building,” said then commissioner chair Ray Gasperson. “The offer is to take the property as is and not to request any further studies on the property.”

Gasperson stepped down as chair Monday after a new majority board of commissioners was sworn into office and appointed newly elected commissioner Michael Gage as chair. Gasperson remains on the board along with Ted Owens, Tom Pack, Keith Holbert and Gage. The board consisting of commissioners Gasperson, Renée McDermott, Owens, Pack and Cindy Walker made the Jervey-Palmer decision prior to the swearing in of the new board.

Some concern was raised regarding the county’s future liability on the property in the event that some environmental hazard is discovered. There are two tanks located somewhere on the property and local officials do not know exactly what they contain or if there have been any leaks.

Then county attorney Mike Egan said it helps if the buyer agrees to purchase the property as is.

Then commissioner vice-chair McDermott, a former attorney, said the buyer would have recourse against the county if a problem is found but as to a state finding, the county may still be responsible, depending on if the problem occurred during the county’s ownership or the hospital’s ownership.

Polk County vacated the Jervey-Palmer building about a year ago when its department of social services (DSS) moved into a new human service building the county constructed in Mill Spring. The county’s goal for years was to vacate the building, which housed DSS, veteran’s service, the senior center and mental health services, due to its age and expense to maintain.

The building was originally constructed in 1929 as the first St. Luke’s Hospital. A new hospital was constructed in Columbus and opened in 1973 when the hospital gave the county the Jervey-Palmer building.

Polk County officials decided after vacating the building the best use of the property would be to give it to the Town of Tryon since it is located within town limits and the town’s zoning authority.

Tryon asked the county to have a phase I study done on the property, which concluded that there was lead paint and asbestos located in the building. Tryon then asked the county to do a phase II study, but the county instead asked the town if the county could remove the tanks in question instead of conduct a phase II study.

Tryon had planned to work with Thomas to give him the building in exchange for Thomas buying a new maintenance shed for the town to have at its wastewater treatment plant in order to tear down the one that sits just behind downtown.

Tryon officials said the exchange became too complicated and declined the offer of the Jervey-Palmer building following a meeting Nov. 20.

It has not been made public what plans Thomas has for the 17,777 square foot Jervey-Palmer building that is located on 4.92 acres of land along Carolina Drive.

Thomas also purchased the former Grover Plant in Lynn earlier this year.

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