Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 12, 2014

Leland courthouse property appraisal: $1.5 million

SUTTONS BAY — Leelanau County commissioners learned to their disappointment that the former Leland courthouse property’s value hasn’t budged much, even after the county added two adjacent plots.

An appraiser valued the 119,563-square-foot property at $1.493 million at a Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

Commissioners were upset that the property’s value had not significantly increased after the county purchased two lots with a townhouse and a partially built townhouse. The property was valued at $1.407 million in 2012 prior to those purchases.

“The market is not good for vacant property at this time,” said Michael Tarnow, an appraiser at Northern Michigan Real Estate Consultants.

Commissioners voted to allow county Administrator Chet Janik to put the property up to bid for real estate agents, pending support from the county Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

The former courthouse site plagued the county for years. It sold the property for $2.4 million in 2007 to Varley-Kelly Properties II LLC, but the developers fell behind on payments and the county regained ownership.

An old jail and the 1.5 townhouses are all that remains on the property, Tarnow said. The property is comprised of 26 individual lots.

“I just think you undervalued the property,” Commissioner Karen Zemaitis told Tarnow. “I think we’re just having a hard time getting a picture of this property from this appraisal.”

Zemaitis criticized the appraisal for failing to take certain amenities, like local shops, into account.

“It’s a very unique piece of property,” Janik said. “There’s not always a link between the appraised price and the selling price.”

The appraisal is based on the county selling the property in one piece.

“Part of the whole process is what’s one apple worth versus a peck of apples,” Tarnow said.

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