The city council has decided to table indefinitely their discussion of a real estate agreement with the Westcott Investment Group. The presentation on a release of real estate that the city had previously invested in started at the council’s Oct. 2 meeting. The council decided to continue the agenda item to their Oct. 16 session to ensure sufficient discussion time and to request additional language to prevent the developer from flipping the property for a profit. Before the council could resume their consideration, however, city staff learned of a lien that was placed on the property in late 2017.
Steve Arbo, city manager, stated that staff had no knowledge of the encumbrance until this week and that David Bushek, chief counsel of economic development and planning, is working with staff to investigate how this could have happened. The deed of trust was recorded Dec. 19, 2017, with the grantor listed as The Grove of Lee’s Summit, for $3.6 million.
“We need staff to find out: we want to know when, we want to know how,” Mayor Bill Baird said.
The property in question has been slated for The Grove development project. The land is not owned by the city, but the city did make a $1.4 million investment in the property in 2011. The council was preparing to decide whether to authorize the release of a purchase option on the land. As Arbo described it at the Oct. 2 meeting, by selling their investment, the city hopes to get infrastructure and additional development in the city out of the deal.
The council had previously been surprised that the city was expected to only get their initial $1.4 million investment back, and they’re now learning it appears to have a lien issued for more than twice that value. Councilmember Rob Binney suggested that the council should proceed with a vote on the matter, rather than simply tabling it with a date uncertain.
Binney voted against the motion to table it indefinitely, which passed. Baird cautioned that this would not be the resolution of the issue.
Councilmembers Craig Faith and Diane Forte were absent from the Oct. 16 meeting.
The Grove is a planned mixed-use development near Highway 291 and SE Bailey Road that will include retail, dining, apartment, and light industrial space.