City buys pecan factory sitePublished 12:08am Friday, June 29, 2012
NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen voted 5-1 at a special meeting Thursday to buy the former pecan factory site for $750,000 as part of a legal settlement with one-time condo developers.yield
The lawsuit filed against the city by the bluff condominiums development company Worley Brown LLC was scheduled to go to trial Friday morning.
Ward 5 Alderman Mark Fortenbery voted against the motion.
City Clerk Donnie Holloway said after the meeting that the aldermen have not decided how the city will pay for the property. He said mini bonds have been discussed, but the board will take up the issue at its next meeting or call a special meeting.
Worley Brown LLC filed the suit in September 2007 to recoup losses caused, the company has said, when it was unable to develop land on the Mississippi River bluff as a condominium complex.
The pecan factory property was donated to the city by the Krouse family more than 10 years ago.
Worley Brown purchased the land from the city in May 2006 for $500,000.
The company’s lawsuit was seeking “rescission of contract and removal of cloud on title, and for compensatory damages caused by breach of contract.”
Worley Brown was owned by the late Edward A. Worley and Larry Brown Jr., son of mayor-elect Larry L. “Butch” Brown. Worley died in 2011, and Larry, who is a witness in the case, has said he relinquished his ownership in the company shortly after Worley’s death.
The company is now owned by Worley’s estate. The executor of that estate is Worley’s son Mike Worley, Larry said.
Mike Worley has been unavailable for comment.
Larry has said he has no vested interest in the outcome of the case and is simply a witness.
Mayor-elect Brown has said his only interest in the Worley Brown case was seeing it resolved before he takes office.
Worley Brown planned to develop the site into “75 luxury residential units, a clubhouse, swimming pool and other related common areas and facilities,” according to the lawsuit.
Before the sale of the land, in January 2006, the property was deemed a Mississippi landmark by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Because of that designation, MDAH had to issue proper permits to allow for construction on the designated sites.
MDAH rejected the permit request to build the condos at the site in September 2007, citing concerns about the safety of building on the site. That ruling became official in October 2007 when the MDAH approved a formal resolution rejecting the permit request.
The $500,000 the city received from the sale of the land was placed in a certificate of deposit. That CD was later used to secure a loan to pay a contractor who completed overlay work on several Natchez streets.