2017-04-27 / Local News

Decade later, former Leland courthouse property near sale

Duplex also being sold
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

After nearly a decade of false starts, an economic recession and environmental woes, Leelanau County appears to be on the verge of selling its former county seat property in Leland.

The sale may be just in time to help offset some unbudgeted expenses headed the county’s way.

The Leelanau County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, the current owner of the property, this week adopted a resolution to execute closing documents on the sale, with signings expected to occur Tuesday at a local title company office.

The biggest part of the property, some two acres, is being sold to a group of investors headed by Leland resident Ross Satterwhite, for $800,000. Satterwhite’s group hopes to sell eight residential lots on the property where new owners will develop private homes.

A second part of the property which will be sold as part of the closing on Tuesday includes a nearly completed residential duplex building. The duplex property is being purchased by Traverse City real estate investor Gene Lafave for $260,000.

Trudy Galla, head of the county’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority as well as the county’s Planning and Community Development department, said a few technical details need to be worked out prior to next week’s closing, but all signs point toward the sale moving forward as planned.

The property is the former site of the Leelanau County Courthouse and jail. In fact, a small historic jail building still stands on the property. The county seat moved from Leland to its current site in rural Suttons Bay Township in 2008 following construction of a new Law Enforcement Center and Leelanau County Government Center on 40 acres off the north side of M-204.

Historic contamination of the Leland site and the need to demolish existing structures there qualified the property as a “brownfield,” eligible for a variety of tax incentives and low-interest loans to help pay for cleanup and demolition.

A sale of the Leland property has been pending since 2007 when the county accepted a $2.4 million purchase offer from a group of local investors doing business as Varley-Kelly Properties. However, delays associated with environmental cleanup of the property and the need to build a community water system for a planned unit development there hampered progress.

The year 2008 was also notable for the beginning of a nationwide economic recession including a global meltdown of real estate markets and financing.

Last year, as environmental cleanup of the property resumed, the county inked purchase agreements with Satterwhite and Lafave that are to be consummated Tuesday. Environmental cleanup was completed earlier this year.

Leelanau County is faced with several unbudgeted expenses including repairs and updates to its government center building and the Law Enforcement Center, as well as a $2.4 million upgrade to the county 9-1-1 system.

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