Meeting in special session Monday night, the Benld City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution to sell the troubled property at 600 Central Avenue to Josh Taylor, Mount Olive, for $3,500.
Mayor Jim Kelly told the BenGil Post that Taylor plans to renovate the property in order to open a heating, ventilation and air conditioning business in Benld. “Structurally, the building is sound,” Kelly said. “It’s the inside that’s a mess.”
The building has been a concern for the city for several years, sitting empty for at least two years. City Attorney Rick Verticchio filed a nuisance property action in Macoupin County Circuit Court in December 2015 against the property and its former owners, James and Kelly Thompson, and Dennis Ballinger of Ballinger Real Estate, who acquired a tax deed for the property in 2014. As a result of that action, the city got permission to clean-up the exterior of the building and boarded up open windows and doors, but did not address the trash-strewn interior. In January 2016, the court entered a judgment awarding ownership of the building to the City of Benld.
Over the past year and a half, Verticchio advised the city to have the building inspected to determine whether it was salvageable or needed to be torn down. At one point, a building inspector refused to enter the building because of the debris strewn throughout the interior.
Kelly said a special meeting was required to act on the sale of the building because the property had to be redeemed for back property taxes by Friday. “It couldn’t wait until our meeting on Monday,” he said. The $3,500 price tag for the property represents the amount of delinquent taxes owed on the property.
Kelly said Taylor has agreed to renovate the building and bring it up to code before establishing his place of business.
“It’s a good deal for the city,” Kelly said. “It didn’t cost the city any money and we get a new business out of it.”
The council’s regular monthly meeting is set for Monday night.