After multiple delays, a deal to sell the former Woody’s on the Water building to a restaurateur from the coast is set to close June 15.
The city of Columbus voted in January to sell the property to Thomas Genin of Ajax LLC for $300,000. City Attorney Jeff Turnage said the delay is due to multiple complicating factors that include encroachment of improvements past the leasehold boundary, buyer’s due diligence, COVID-19, the fact that the land is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a Lowndes County Port Authority lease, the need for approvals of the sublease, completion of surveys and other issues.
“Sometimes things are worth taking time on,” Turnage said Thursday. “The Corps, the Port Authority, the buyer and I have been working well together to try to clear issues so that the property sale may close soon.”
The building was donated to the city in February 2020 by former owner John Young of CMR Enterprises. With an assessed value of just more than $1 million, annual property taxes amounted to $180,330, according to tax records.
Both the Corps and the Port Authority need to sign off before the city can close the deal. Port Authority Director Will Sanders said that while the Corps and the Port agreed to the deal, there was still some ironing out of the language within the document before anything could be finalized.
“I believe it’s going to happen but it hasn’t happened yet,” Sanders said.
Genin, the buyer, wanted to close the deal by the end of February, but in April Columbus City Council extended the closing date to June 15. Genin said a large part of the delay was unanticipated obstacles with due diligence. The building did not have a blueprint, and inspections on the utilities and infrastructure had to be conducted.
“It’s not humanly possible to do anything fast with the current state of affairs,” Genin said.
Genin is also in the process of obtaining a new lease with the Corps of Engineers. He believes that if this lease is presented and accepted by the city, they can close the deal within the given time frame, or at least within the next 30 days.
“I’d imagine once the new lease hits the table, then we’ll move in the direction toward closing,” Genin said.
Though the process of the closure has taken a few turns, Genin’s vision for a seafood restaurant has not. He still fully intends to bring fresh seafood and entertainment to the Columbus Marina. He plans to renovate the restaurant and boat docks and is also planning to add a beach to the property. There will even be a small retail seafood market where customers can purchase shrimp, crawfish, oysters, redtail and more.