A downtown Paris “eyesore” will go on the auction block for a second time this year.
After failing to get a bid in an earlier sheriff’s sale, the historic Belford Apartments, 260 S. Main St., could be up for sale again in November because of action taken Monday night by Paris City Council. Councilors voted to lower the minimum price from $50,000 to $20,000 in an attempt to attract a buyer for the 1915 four-story building, one of the only structures left standing after the 1916 fire.
“It continues to be an eyesore and a danger,” Councilor Linda Knox said of the crumbling building owned by Kenneth Kammer of Boomer Trends Magazine Inc.
The city began litigation against Kammer in February 2018 after the owner accumulated more than $2 million in code enforcement penalties for failure to demolish the building. On Aug. 8, 2018, the 6th District Court of Lamar County entered a final judgment in the amount of $2,071,000. To satisfy the judgment, the city issued the order to sell the property in a sheriff’s sale.
Earlier this year, the council voted to forgive the $2 million in penalties if a new owner demolishes or stabilizes the structure within 18 months and then rehabilitates the building within five years.
Along with penalty forgiveness, a rehabilitated structure would earn an additional $50,000 in city economic development incentives once it receives a certificate of occupancy. Within six months of purchase, the new owner also must clean up the grounds of all rubbish, debris, trash and overgrown vegetation.
Realtor and Councilor Clayton Pilgrim said he sees little hope for the building’s restoration, which could cost millions, with demolition expected to cost roughly $400,000.
“The market is just not there to restore it,” Pilgrim said. “If it’s torn down, the owner will have a parking lot or the potential for a building in the downtown area.”
City attorney Stephanie Harris said there is talk of a potential private buyer, but said she has not been approached by either the buyer or owner of the property. Without mentioning a name, Pilgrim asked if the potential buyer had other properties in Paris, and if property taxes are current on those properties, to which Harris answered no.