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April 8, 2014

Questions plague Leland courthouse property

SUTTONS BAY — Leelanau County Commissioners decided they still need answers to questions about the county-held Leland courthouse property before they can move to sell it.

Commissioners on Monday hoped to pick a real estate firm to help them market the 119,563-square-foot property that’s plagued them for years.

But they decided to postpone that decision and learn more about the property’s zoning requirements.

It’s now zoned Planned Unit Development for about two dozen units. Presenters at Monday’s meeting said the PUD could make it harder to sell the property.

“You’ve taken your potential buyer market and shrunken it way down,” said Kevin Endres, founder and co-owner of Three West, one of the real estate groups that bid to market the property.

Commissioners voted to try to get Leland Township officials to commit, in writing, to being flexible about the PUD zoning, whether for fewer units or to dissolve them altogether. The township’s cooperation could mean fewer units on the lot or it could mean a developer would be allowed to put just one or two homes on the property.

Commissioners also want to look into Leland Township’s zoning rules.

No Leland Township officials attended the meeting.

Commissioners were disappointed that they could lose even more money on the property. Even though an appraiser recently valued it at $1.4 million, the county could get less for it. Mike Schmidt, a broker for Coldwell Banker Schmidt, estimated the county could get $1 million.

“I had come with high hopes of maybe we could get a million and a half for it,” said Commissioner Karen Zemaitis. “I want to look at the ways to do the best to make it as small a loss as possible for use.”

Commissioners also said they needed more time to think about each of the marketing proposals.

Representatives from Coldwell Banker Schmidt, Re/Max and Three West all presented strategies for selling the property, promising online marketing and offering their years of experience to the county.

None of them were committed to selling the property with any specific design in mind. When asked, commissioners only had one goal.

“What do we want? Me, personally, the highest amount of money,” Commissioner Melinda Lautner said.

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