Blight Issues Impacting Swing Bridge Project; City Asks Bank To Clean It Up
City of Douglas officials say they are holding talks with the bank that is currently in possession of the luxury development called The Board Walk at Swing Bridge.
The city asserts it is a legal responsibility of the property owner - which is Macatawa Bank at this time as the property is under a judicial foreclosure - to maintain the interior of the property as well as the public boardwalk in front of it.
The issue was discussed at Monday night’s meeting when council members asked Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere to provide an update on the property.
Council members also expressed concern that the property continues to have blight issues, including with increasing geese excrement on the public boardwalk, a public benefit gained through a 2009 legal agreement between the city and developer Tom Scott.
“They (representatives from Macatawa Bank) told me they had assigned a company to do that (clear the boardwalk),” said LeFevere, referring to a meeting he had with the bank about two weeks ago.
“We told them the entire property needs to be maintained.”
The development remains unfinished and has had no visible construction activity onsite for some two years now.
With weeds growing everywhere and the conspicuous carcass of a basement foundation, Douglas Mayor Pro Tem Martha Hoexter noted that it was hard to believe anyone would want to reside there.
Currently, one or sometimes two cars can be seen parked in one of the driveways of the formerly planned 16 residential units.
The uncompleted project is now going through judicial foreclosure, meaning the mortgaged property is under the auspices of a court. The proceeds of the sale will first go to satisfy the mortgage, then to satisfy other lien holders and finally to the borrower, which in this case is Scott.
By going through a judicial foreclosure, the bank and/or other possible lenders assure themselves they are proceeding carefully so as to include all affected parties in the case.
This legal process does grant Scott a “redemption period” through which the developer can regain possession of the property if he can prove to be financially able to continue with the project. The redeeming period ends on November 15, according to LeFevere.
City officials say they do not know the status of the developer as it relates to the property and his relationship to the bank.
Scott did not return calls from The Local Observer for comment about the matter.