Brookhaven government moves toward likely new home

Published 10:00 am Thursday, May 23, 2024

The government of the City of Brookhaven has voted to enter contract negotiations to lease the former Hartman-Harrigill Funeral Home as its new home.

On Tuesday, the Board voted 4-2 to “proceed with entering into contract negotiations and letter of intent with 101 Chickasaw LLC to lease and renovate the existing building located at 101 W. Chickasaw St., Brookhaven … It is the intent of the City to renovate the building for the purpose and usage as City Hall.”

Aldermen James Magee Jr., Shannon Moore, Rev. Charles Caston Sr. and Fletcher Grice voted in support of the motion; aldermen Andre’ Spiller and Don Underwood voted against. Ward 4 Alderman Jeff Henning excused himself from the vote to avoid possible conflict of interest.

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Spiller said he voted against the motion because the Board had not to-date been able to negotiate with the Kees family, the owners of the Kees Automotive Building at the corner of South First and East Cherokee streets — which the Board had previously discussed as an option for the relocation of the City’s offices.

“We thought we were in negotiation with the Kees family and John Lynch,” said Spiller. Lynch is the owner of 101 Chickasaw LLC.

The renovation of the former Hartman-Harrigill building “will include City offices, a new courtroom, prisoner holding facilities, public and private restrooms, file storage, access control sprinkler systems, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, generator, lighting, and a new parking lot,” the motion specified.

The remainder of the motion reads: “Once renovations are completed the City Hall will lease from 101 Chickasaw LLC for a five-year period. After five years, the City will have the option to lease or purchase under a separate agreement. The City will commit $250,000.00 for the renovation to be applied towards the purchase price, as tenant improvements. No further payments are required until completion. The City will use the equity payment from the County to pay for tenant improvements and future lease payments.

“This contract is expressly contingent upon the City and County finalizing and consummating the buy-out of the City’s equity interest in the ‘Lincoln County-Brookhaven Governmental Complex Contract and Agreement.’”

In April, Lincoln County Board Attorney Greg Malta told supervisors the County will have to buy out the City’s ownership of its portion of the government complex on South First Street, where the County and City both have their offices and court rooms.

A 1980 interlocal agreement stipulates the County would have to reimburse the City 20 percent of the building’s value, the City’s ownership, if the city government moved out of the courthouse. It is the lesser of two payment options the County had.

“The interlocal agreement states the City and County each are to get an appraisal of the building and then get a third appraisal by an appraiser appointed by both the City and County,” Malta said in April. “We got our appraisal and the City got theirs. We are waiting to get the third appraisal. The numbers will then become public and the average of the three will be taken.”