A must-read from Michael Van Sickler: Along the shores of a murky drainage pond called Childs Park Lake is land that has defied the real estate slump.
Four modest homes have sold for an average of $123,850 since 2008. The city bought them and a weed-filled lot to clear the way for a park.
The sales are drastic outliers in a neighborhood struggling with high unemployment, drugs and foreclosures and where homes now sell for an average of $16,000.
While the other three homes have been demolished, one remains. A green concrete-block ranch house the city bought in December for $80,000. Officials justified the price with an appraisal done in October 2007 — before the bubble burst.
An e-mail from a city employee negotiating the purchase makes it clear this was no oversight. The city intended to pay an inflated price to Beverly Gray, whose home the Pinellas County Appraiser’s office now says has a market value of $24,000.
City officials say they didn’t give Gray preferential treatment, even if she is the aunt of the man who oversees the Childs Park Lake project.
That would be Goliath Davis, a top city official and former police chief. Continue reading here. Take special note of Bill Foster’s latest defense of Go Davis (wtf does Davis have on Go???):
An attorney who has practiced real estate law for 20 years, Foster said if the city were more aggressive in buying properties, there would be a cost to that, too.
“I’ve seen eminent domain cases where the legal fees exceeded the price of the property,” Foster said. “I don’t smell a scandal here. There are so many eyeballs on these transactions that I don’t worry about issues where favoritism might be involved. It’s not an issue here.”