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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Island Marine owner won't budge on price, despite flawed appraisal

A potential purchase by the City of Anna Maria of the Island Marine property on Pine Avenue fell flat last week after property owner Jeff Van Hoose refused to budge from his $2.5 million asking price.

Mayor SueLynn, along with representatives of the Trust for Public Lands, city commissioners and members of the public met with Van Hoose Jan. 20 to discuss a potential purchase and learn the TPL process.

TPL representative John Garrison said his non-profit organization would purchase the property for Anna Maria, based on an agreement with the city that it would raise the necessary money to buy the land from TPL. That's typically done with a state or federal grant, he said.

At the same time, however, Garrison said TPL would have to get its own appraisal of the property from a certified appraiser on its approved list. The TPL won't pay more than what the independent appraisal states, he said.

That proved to be the sticking point for Van Hoose, who supplied his own appraisal of $2.5 million done by appraiser David Moore for the Brasota Mortage Company.

Van Hoose claimed he's got other offers on the property already, but wanted to give the city first crack.

But even with an independent appraisal, Van Hoose said he wouldn't come down from the $2.5 million price, regardless of what the TPL will pay.

Commissioner Duke Miller questioned the math in the Moore appraisal, pointing out that Moore had based his appraisal on five buildable lots at 7,260 square feet per lot, although the lots are only 5,700 square feet each.

In addition, Moore used lots in Key Royale at $53 per square foot as his comparison to reach his appraisal figure of $60 per square foot, and added in the cost of the Island Deli building at the property for $375,000.

That's a building the city would tear down anyway, Miller observed.

He also noted that the appraisal assumes there will be five buildable lots on the property, but Van Hoose needs a variance to the city's lot-size requirements in order to make five buildable lots.

"So the value is based on the variance," suggested Miller.

Garrison agreed. "It does sound like an appraisal based on a zoning variance for five buildable lots," he said.

Either way, Garrison said the TPL needs an independent appraisal before it proceeds with a purchase and won't pay more than that appraisal.

Commissioner Carol Ann Magill asked Van Hoose if he would come down in his asking price, based upon the independent appraisal, but Van Hoose wasn't interested.

"I'm comfortable with the $2.5 million price," he replied.

"Then I'd say if I had a $2.5 million offer, I'd take it and get out of Dodge," Miller told Van Hoose.

Commissioners agreed there was little point in proceeding with an appraisal and purchase agreement, although they praised the effort by SueLynn to try to purchase the property for public use.

"There's no point if he's not going to lower the price, even with the required appraisal," said Commission Chairman John Quam.

"This is something I would really like to have done," added Commissioner Dale Woodland.

"It's a big disappointment," said the mayor, "but I have to agree with the commissioners. There's really no point in going forward at this time."

The mayor said that in the past, the city had failed to act when it had the opportunity to purchase Bean Point and the land where the Villa Rosa subdivision is being developed. She had pursued the idea of purchasing the Island Marine property because the TPL had indicated it was interested in assisting the city.

Garrison thought Anna Maria had an excellent chance of receiving a grant for 100 percent of the purchase price from the Florida Communities Trust. The FCT has $66 million in grant money available and announces its decisions in September, giving the city ample time to file an application, he said.

The planning and zoning board's Jan. 26 vote to deny the variance request by Island Marine ended in a 2-2 tie as three members were absent. The board agreed to continue the variance application to its Feb. 23 regular meeting.