The proposed sale of condemned property at Oak and Fry streets is headed down a long road after the deal this month landed in Denton County probate court.
Heirs have a stake in the 1.6-acre parcel, including seven dilapidated buildings the city condemned in February, according to court testimony heard Tuesday afternoon.
Denton County Probate Judge Bonnie Robison said she couldn’t review or approve the sale without more information.
She appointed a temporary independent administrator to review the current offer and to represent the heirs to other government entities that have an interest in the property, too.
“I cannot authorize the sale today — we don’t have a contract,” Robison said. “We don’t know if the buyer can close.”
Co-owner Bobby Naderi told the court he received a cash offer for $850,000 to sell the property after listing it with a real estate broker several months ago.
He testified that he had commissioned an independent appraisal for the property and named Struga Management as the prospective buyer. He expected to be able to close the deal in 10 days once the property title was clear.
Real estate broker Greg Johnson did not return a call late Tuesday afternoon asking what the plans were for the property.
But because Naderi’s brother co-owned the property when he died in 2007, several heirs, including minor children, have a financial interest in what happens there, including whether the city bulldozes the buildings before the sale is complete.
Several governmental entities, including the Internal Revenue Service, have a financial interest in the property along with the heirs, according to court testimony.
Two different law firms attended the hearing Tuesday afternoon to represent the public’s interest in what happens at the corner of Oak and Fry streets.
Mark Burroughs, a tax collection attorney for the city and the Denton school district, said his firm has held back from foreclosing on the property pending the sale.
He told the court that the city, the school district and the county expect to collect about $87,000 in past-due property taxes when the sale is finalized.
Even though the past due taxes date to 2012, they only became payable last year. For several years, Naderi was not required to pay property taxes on the parcel because he erroneously received a religious exemption. After the Denton Central Appraisal District uncovered the exemption last year, they removed it and notified Naderi that several years of property taxes would become payable. The total due includes penalties and interest, Burroughs said.
Denton attorneys Richard Hayes and Lance Vanzant also attended the hearing Tuesday, representing the city’s interest in the health and safety of the property.
When the city condemned the seven buildings in February, officials gave Naderi until May 27 to repair or demolish the buildings.
Neither action has happened. Utility service was turned off at the property months ago, but the city receives complaints almost daily about people on the property, Hayes said. Naderi boarded up the buildings, but individuals have removed some of the boards and moved back into the buildings. Neighbors have reported seeing what appears to be drug deals on the property, Hayes said.
“The neighbors want a solution,” Hayes said.
At one point, Robison swore Hayes in as a witness to receive his testimony that the buildings were unfit and unsafe. He told the court that if the city is forced to bulldoze the homes, it would probably be more expensive for the heirs and Naderi than if the new owner takes responsibility for it.
Robison told the parties that she expected the interim administrator to move quickly on evaluating the sales contract, but that she also expected to appoint a special attorney to represent the children’s interest in the transaction.
“I’m glad this is moving forward, so we can get this property sold,” Robison said after the formal proceedings ended.