Saturday, February 17, 2018
News Roundup

Zephyrhills moves forward with Jeffries house purchase

ZEPHYRHILLS — After months of negotiations, city officials and the bank that owns the Capt. Jeffries house appear ready to close a deal that will make the city the latest owner of the historic downtown property.

The house, on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street, has been in foreclosure for the past few years; CenterState Bank lists its selling price at $135,000. City Attorney Joseph Poblick told the council Monday the bank is willing to sell it to the city "as is" for $111,000.

"This is their rock-bottom price," said Poblick.

Appraisals commissioned by the city put the value of the two-story wood building and a second structure on the property at $125,000 and $130,000.

Council members met as the community redevelopment agency after their regular council meeting Monday night to discuss the deal and then reconvened as the city council to vote unanimously to accept the bank's purchase price. The vote stipulates that a due diligence clause be added to the contract giving the city 45 days to obtain estimates on how much it will cost to repair and restore the house; if the figure is deemed too high, the clause gives the city authority to cancel the sale.

If the bank accepts the clause, the contract will be on a future council agenda for a final vote and decision on how to pay for the property, said City Manager Jim Drumm. Options include pulling money out of the general fund reserve account or using revenues from the Penny For Pasco sales tax, Drumm said.

The house was built in 1911 by Civil War veteran Capt. Howard B. Jeffries, two years after he moved to the area from New York to establish a veterans' retirement colony that eventually became the city of Zephyrhills. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

Mayor Danny Burgess asked the council in June to consider buying the property to prevent it from falling into further disrepair, saying the city has a moral obligation to save its most historic home for future generations.

In other business Monday, the council agreed to buy the private water system that serves the Kemple Estates mobile home park. The price will be negotiated but is expected to be between $50,000 and $60,000, said Drumm.

The owners of Kemple Water Company approached the city about the sale, Drumm said. The city will add 145 new customers to its utility roll and should recuperate the money spent on buying the system in about six years, he said.

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