The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) has filed suit against property owner Mike Tankersley, who had requested, and was denied, an extension request earlier this year as part of the Chaffee Crossing Development Group (CCDG) with the late Dr. Marion Smith.
The authority also may find itself in the middle of a complicated land deal between two other buyers who violated terms of their contracts.
Per terms of the agreement with CCDG, Tankersley was to proceed with a commercial development on his portion (15 acres) of a 105-acre plot along Highways 59 and 22 purchased with Smith, a Hot Springs veterinarian who died suddenly in 2014 after battling lung cancer for many years.
Smith owned the remaining 90 acres, and her death placed in limbo a planned strip mall development similar to the Fort Smith Pavilion, according to FCRA Executive Director Ivy Owen. After Tankersley’s extension request — his fifth to date — was denied by FCRA, the trust attempted to initiate buyback proceedings for the $285,000 Tankersley paid for it. Owen said the trust received no response from Tankersley after repeated attempts, thus necessitating the lawsuit.
As for the remaining 90 acres, they are now in the hands of Smith’s widower and brother-in-law. Owen said the brother-in-law remains committed to the project, but the widower “just wants his money back,” so the two will have to come to terms before their extension request runs out in “about six months.” Buyback for the remaining 90 acres is $1.2 million.
In a separate deal, JW Stephens Enterprises had planned a five-acre commercial development for office space at Chaffee Crossing, but Stephens was deployed by the U.S. Air Force at the time of his deadline.
“His extension request was up. He still wanted to do it, but he said, ‘I can’t do it right now,'” Owen said, adding that he found a financial backer in Ken Shollmier. “We know Ken. He bought a 64-acre piece of property from us. He said he would go in as partner, so we said okay.”
Shollmier later tried for an extension request, Owen said, but he was told he would have to go through Stephens since it was assumed by FCRA that he (Stephens) still owned the land.
“That’s when he says, ‘Yes, I do (own it).”
“I guess they got it recorded, but it violated the terms of our agreement, and they did it as a cash sale. They didn’t have title insurance. Anyway, so now we’re in a situation where I think we have to go back after the original buyer (Stephens) and offer him what he paid for it.”
The dilemma is that per terms of the contract, FCRA buys back land at the price that it sold ($120,000 in this case), but Stephens sold the land to Shollmier for $180,000.
Stephens “can’t sell the land to us, though, because he doesn’t own it. So we have to go to Shollmier and pay the $120,000, but he has already shelled out $180,000. That’s where we’re going to run into some problems,” Owen said.