City establishes Beacon Light Apts. demo budget

In an item introduced into the Henderson City Council’s regular monthly meeting agenda last night, the council acted unanimously to establish a budget for the demolition of the Beacon Light Apartments for the purpose of tracking expenses.

City Manager Ray Griffin told members that he is also hoping to expedite the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the city and the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) by that department. Griffin expressed the hope that Henderson Mayor Pete O’Geary would “invoke the services” of Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. Bob Etheridge to get the document signed by HUD.

In a recently brokered deal, HUD will remunerate the city its expenses for the demolition of the condemned apartment complex from a letter of credit on deposit with HUD from owner Sharif Abdehalim of $1.5 million. That money was secured to guarantee that Abdehalim rehabilitated the property and thereby brought the complex up to city code, something that has not been done since he purchased the property after HUD’s 2006 foreclosure for $48,000.

Code Compliance Director Corey Williams expressed the hope that the inspections could be completed and the demolition job could be bid out as early as the council’s first meeting in December.

City Attorney John Zollicoffer offered that HUD will need to be reminded that the city will need a reasonable extension of time because of that agency’s delay.

Member Mike Inscoe reminded members that the permitting for soil and erosion control has already cost the city $2,500 and asbestos and lead paint reports will run the city $5,000 more. He said that Abdehalim could go to court and seek a stay in HUD’s decision, and without a signed memorandum of understanding from HUD, the city could be out those funds.

Griffin characterized the decision as being “between a rock and a hard place”. He said that the city has only the good faith of the United States’ government Department of Housing & Urban Development that it will keep the deal that it itself offered.

“Nothing is certain until [the buildings] are torn down,” Griffin said.

Zollicoffer said that HUD should not be able to back out of the deal once they sign the memorandum.