By Frank Lewis
Portsmouth pediatrician Dr. John DiTraglia has expressed interest in purchasing the former Babcock building located at 720 Sixth St., in Portsmouth. That property has come up before City Council multiple times because of the rundown condition of the house on that property.
Several years ago the city exchanged property it owned on Seventh Street for the Babcock property, and since then the property, like so many others owned by the city, has fallen into disrepair.
Recently, when the city’s Parks, Recreation, Service, Buildings and Cultural Committee, chaired by Second Ward Councilman Rich Saddler, pursued the possibility of selling the building and City Manager Derek Allen had the property appraised. It appraised for $73,000 for a clear property and $50,000 as the property sits today with the current structure on that property.
Allen said on April 24 his office received an offer from DiTraglia to purchase the building for $50,000. In the correspondence DiTraglia said - “My pediatric practice office is contiguous to the property at 720 Sixth St., the Babcock building. Would the city sell me this property to develop my business from the appraised price of $50,000 contingent on asbestos testing?”
Allen asked City Solicitor John Haas for a legal opinion regarding the process for disposing of that property in the event that City Council would decide to dispose of the property.
Haas sent back a reference to Revised Code section dealing with the sale of city owned property. That is Section 721.03 titled “Lease or sale of real estate - advertisement for bids.” That section says the sale or lease of real estate belonging to a municipal corporation can only be done through an ordinance approved by a two-thirds vote of the members of the legislative authority and by the “board or officer having supervision or management of such real estate.”
It goes on to say when the contract is authorized, “it shall be made in writing by such board or officer, and, except as provided in Section 721.27 or 721.29 of the Revised Code, only to the highest bidder, after advertisement once a week for five consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation within the municipal corporation or as provided in Section 7.16 of the Revised Code.”
The section says the board or officer may reject any bids and re-advertise until all of the real estate is sold or leased.
Haas said, in his response to Allen, “The Revised Code does not appear to require the sale price be equal to or above the appraised value. The legislature must have determined that the advertisement and bidding process would determine a fair value.”
Allen, in his report to City Council made a point of saying - “I make no recommendation regarding this matter but rather just present it to City Council. If City Council chooses to sell this property the revenue received from this sale would be deposited into the General Fund.”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.