Lowndes County could finalize a sale for the purchase of the old Lipscomb property as early as June, Columbus attorney David Sanders said Wednesday.
“If all goes as planned, I think we could close on the sale in about six weeks,” said Sanders, who is representing the estate of the late Randolph Lipscomb on the behalf of Lipscomb’s three children.
Lipscomb, a former attorney, died in March 2017.
Sanders said Jacob Pannell, who owns a building materials salvage company in Columbus, has contracted to remove materials for the home for re-sale.
“We contracted with (Pannell) for him to take out floors, mantels, anything he considered to be salvageable,” Sanders said. “The contract was for 30 days, but there’s no penalty if it takes longer.”
Sanders said once Pannell has finished his salvage operations, the estate will contract with Burns Construction to demolish the old home. Sanders said that could take up to two weeks, but noted that Burns previously demolished and cleared the old County Annex building on the same block in two days last fall.
“Once the house is demolished and cleared, we’ll be able to close on the sale,” Sanders said.
The house, located on the northeast corner of Sixth Street North and Second Avenue, is on the block occupied the county courthouse and is the only parcel on the block not owned by the county. Supervisors began negotiating with the Lipscomb estate in September, saying the property could be a part of potential courthouse expansion.
The supervisors agreed to pay the estate $190,000 — the appraised value of both the house and the lot — in November on the condition that the estate pay for having the lot cleared.
Supervisors had hoped to buy the house, built in the late 1890s, and demolish it but encountered laws that forbid them from destroying the house on the basis of its listing on the National Register of Historic Places and is located in the Columbus downtown historic district.
According to the law, homes that meet both those criteria can only be destroyed by private owners, with consent of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. The commission voted in March to allow the Lipscomb estate to demolish the home, and Kenneth Wiegel, the city’s building inspector, said the estate has since applied for a demolition permit.
“We’ve sent utility disconnect requests to Columbus Light and Water and Atmos,” Wiegel said. “We’ve had confirmation from (CLW) that they have disconnected the house. We’re waiting on confirmation from Atmos. When we receive that, we’ll issue the demolition permit.”
Because the county only wanted the lot and not the house, there was some speculation the county should have ordered an appraisal to determine the value of the lot alone and negotiated with the estate on that value, which would have been substantially lower than the two $190,000 appraisals that the negotiations were based on.
Mississippi Code dictates that governments cannot pay above appraised value for property. There is a an exception, however, if efforts to negotiate a sale at appraised value fail and there is a compelling need for the government entity to acquire the land.
Although no plans for a courthouse expansion have been presented, supervisors have said that the expansion is still a possibility and the Lipscomb property is essential to those plans.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]