Possible agreement being hammered out


IMLAY CITY — It has taken longer than some had anticipated, but work continues by officials from both sides as final details of a potential purchase agreement creeps along ever so slowly, between the City of Imlay City and Sage Creek Winery.

Owners of the Memphis-based business approached the city earlier this year about the possibility of obtaining a vacant city-owned property to expand their successful business.

Both the city commission and City Manager Craig Horton were anxious to get a deal done and welcome the fledgling business to Imlay City.

However, the process has been bogged down with legalities and fine details of obtaining the property on Third Street that used to house the fire department and DPW, across the street from the Imlay City Police Department.

At last week’s city commission meeting, City Manager Craig Horton agreed that the whole process has taken longer than he had anticipated.

“I thought we might have had something done by now, but once the lawyers got involved, it slowed the process down and really now, we are just waiting to get things finalized and move forward. We don’t want to lose out on them coming to town.”

The city has asked for $50,000 for the property and three vacant buildings along Third St. No fair market appraisal has been done, as of yet.

“We don’t want the buildings to continue to sit empty,” said Horton. “We’d love to have them here and I know they would be making a sizeable investment to improve the buildings and open up what I think would be a successful business.”

The city attorney was in attendance at last week’s meeting and said he has been in touch with legal representation from Sage Creek.

Final details, including the property’s value and certain performance-based benchmarks are being worked out.

While the $50,000 has generally been agreed to by both sides, having the potential new business be responsible for the fair market value difference between the $50,000 and the appraisal continues to be a sticking point.

The only catch to Sage Creek paying the difference would be if they for some unknown reason, walked away from the deal, after signing closing documents.

However, officials with Sage Creek say should they pay for any improvements made to any of the buildings, that invested money would go towards any difference that might be owed.

“It gets complicated,” Horton cautioned. “But we just want to get the deal done and get them here and start construction and I know that’s what they want.”

While the two sides could potentially agree to a deal, Sage Creek owners will still have to wait on permits from EGLE (possible contaminated soil) and the License Liquor Control Commission.

In light of that, the city agreed to give Sage Creek owners a 180-day window to obtain necessary permits from State officials and 18 months to have a wine tasting room open for business.

Commission member Shane Collison finally made a motion, which was seconded by Joe DeLuca, to move forward with the sale of property to Sage Creek for a cost of $50,000.

City Manager Horton is anticipating final action could be taken at the next Commission meeting on September 19.

A two-thirds majority, or five affirmative votes, must be recorded for any final contract to become official, according to the city attorney.