Our View: Property problems

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— A potentially messy situation exists in the area of Pershing Street between a couple who owns a business and an out-of-town development company seeking to expand an existing business.

This situation, if not resolved, could have repercussions for not only the parties involved, but also the city of Craig and its residents.

It's also an example of a situation that could arise more often as the city develops.

The property dispute involves Randy and Cindy Looper, owners of the Elk Run Inn for the past five years, and Four Hands Craig LLC, a company seeking to build a bigger City Market, where the Post office is now.

At issue is three feet.

Granted, that's not a lot of property, but in this case, those three feet represent uncertainties for the Loopers and the City Market project.

Four Hands plans to close on a contract in October to buy the Post office building, located behind the Elk Run Inn on Pershing. Four Hands is negotiating with Rainier Sunwest Portfolio I, a Dallas partnership that owns the Post office building.

However, part of the Elk Run building encroaches by three feet onto Rainier's parking lot, and therein lies the rub.

The encroachment, it should be noted, has existed for 60 years, long before the Loopers' have owned the building.

But, Rainier doesn't want to sell the three feet to the Loopers and Four Hands isn't willing to pay Rainier the agreed upon sale price for the Post office property if the three feet isn't included.

The Loopers said it would cost them $50,000 to $100,000 to demolish the part of their building with the three feet.

Adding to the dilemma is that the Loopers and Four Hands couldn't come to an agreement on Four Hands' offer to buy the Elk Run Inn.

For this situation to be resolved, the Editorial Board believes each party has to give in a little.

The last thing this community needs is a small business, owned by local residents, being squeezed out by a bigger company.

Likewise, the community can't afford - particularly in this difficult economic time - to have an environment unfriendly to development.

In this situation, the Editorial Board wants - and the community is best served - by having its cake and eating it, too.

The board believes the Looper-Rainier-Four Hands situation can be resolved.

For the Loopers, perhaps they have to swallow the expense of demolishing the three feet, and accepting that expense by realizing an expanded City Market could benefit their hotel in the long run.

For Four Hands, maybe it has to up its sale offer to the Loopers, if the property they're attempting to develop is so valuable.

The company should also recognize there is little to be gained by alienating a local couple in the town it is trying to do business in, and upping its offer would show the community a little goodwill.

There are plenty of other solutions that could be put to this problem, if thought of creatively.

The situation around Pershing Street isn't an unsolvable one, but smaller businesses should be forewarned, the Editorial Board believes.

Big development in Craig isn't going anywhere, and as vacant property is considered for such developments, neighboring small businesses need to pay attention to detail.

The Loopers knew ahead of time about the three feet encroachment, and that a deal was in the works between Rainier and Four Hands for possible development.

Maybe they could have handled the problem ahead of time.

It's a lesson worth keeping in mind for the future for our community's all-important small businesses. Development is coming, and smaller businesses certainly have less room for error than their big business counterparts.

Comments

lonelyone 5 years, 5 months ago

if that 3 feet has been there for 60 or so years, doesn't that make it Loopers property by default?? I know that's not worded right, but there was a couple in Denver that went through this last year because someone else used their property for something and then was able to lay claim to it in court.........they were pretty sneaky about it too and it caused a big problem. But I just can't see that this THREE feet is going to make such a difference to the company that owns the Post office building and the developer. I think it would make a big difference to Loopers tho as they will have to make sturcture changes to their building. I agree with the board and think this issue can be resolved, but I think those 3 feet should be either sold to the Loopers at a very cheap price or the company that ownes that tiny piece of land should pay part of the cost to re-do the building.

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GlacierDragon 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree with you. I can't remember what it's called, but you're right about the usage. A couple had been using part of their neighbor's property for something like 18 or 20 years and since the owners hadn't been using it, it was defaulted over to them through the courts. Seems to me that applies here and maybe the Loopers ought to look into that.

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AltitudeAdjustment 5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks craiggirl for the information. I think that the Editorial Board is off he mark on this one. The Loopers already paid for that property when they bought the hotel. The company that is laying claim to it just found out that the stairs were on their property after 60 years? Are you serious? The simple fact that both properties have changed hands a bunch of times should eliminate the development company's claim to it. Not until it became a money issue did they ever stake a claim. The Loopers have been paying property taxes on that piece of ground and the improvements on it since they bought it. And the previous owners have paid taxes on it for the last 55 years. The county accessors office has always included that three feet on their assessment of value and the owners of that hotel have paid taxes for years for the improvements on that ground. Maybe the development company should have to pay them back for the taxes attributed to that stairway on the property (plus interest over 60 years). If this was a simply annuity and the taxes generated from that stairways was $25 per year (in 1949) and increased at a rate of 5% per year, the TIme Value of the taxes paid on that stair way over the last 60 years would amount to about about $100,000 (based on a 9% annual rate of return which is far below the average market rate of return over the same time period) that the owners of the hotel have paid out in taxes. So the developer should have to either pay back taxes on the property or reimburse the owner for the taxes they paid on behalf of the developer over the last 60 years.

Anyway you slice it, the big company has "overlooked" a worthless strip of ground for a long time because it suited them. Now they see they could make a few bucks and all of a sudden the fact that the Elk Run Inn has a stairway on the property makes them upset. I hope the courts tell the big dogs to stick it. They screwed up, they should have to pay the price.

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lonelyone 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree with you, AA. Seems to me this 3 feet of land should not be a deal breaker for the new store and it shouldn't cause so much trouble for the Loopers. I've tried to get a look at things as I drive by there and it seems to me that if the stairway was in the developers property, then shouldn't some of the other property the Loopers have and use, be on it too? Looks to me like the area where the pool use to be in right in line with the stairway.

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