The Boss bows out of Fuddtown buy


File Photo
The Clyde "Fudd" Campbell property bought by Steve Grindstaff at a public auction in August is back on the market after heretofore unknown land use restrictions caused the buyer to rescind the offer.

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  The purchase of an historic Elizabethton property auction in August has apparently fallen through, according to the winning bidder and the auction company.
  Steve Grindstaff submitted a winning bid of $1,026,900 on Aug. 20 to acquire just over eight acres of the "Fuddtown" property fronting West Elk Avenue owned by the heirs of Clyde "Fudd" Campbell. According to a deed on file at the county Register of Deeds office dated Feb. 22, 1963, the property came with restrictions of use.
  Grindstaff's attorney David Bush said Friday that his client was unaware of the deed restrictions prior to the sale. He said the restriction presented a legal obstacle Grindstaff was not willing to take on at the time.
  "It turned out neither the seller nor the auctioneer were aware of them," Bush said. "Once we found out what we were dealing with, we made a decision to rescind the seller's contract."
  The February 1963 deed stated grantors Orion C. and Mary Emma Parker, and The Evangelical Alliance Mission and buyers Clyde T. and Arline Campbell granted the property to the Campbell family.
  That deed included restrictions prohibiting any business developed on the property from serving alcoholic beverages of beer or mixed drinks. The restrictions also block the use of loudspeakers, or any automobile repair shop or junkyard business where cars are stored. The deed's wording does not specifically prohibit a business from selling automobiles.
  Bush stated lifting the deed's covenants would require a lawsuit filed in Chancery Court. Surrounding property owners would have to be added to the lawsuit since a covenant change on the land's use could significantly impact the neighborhood.
  "To clear that up would take significant legal action," Bush said.
  Shortly after purchasing the property, Grindstaff said he had not made any concrete decision about developing the property, but indicated an expansion of his West Elk Avenue automotive dealership was a possibility.
  Travis Royston, auctioneer with Ramsey and Associates who conducted the auction, said the company informed all bidders no deed search of the property had been conducted prior to the sale. At the time of the land auction, Ramsey and other auctioneers advised potential bidders to conduct a title search on the real property.
  Royston said the deal's collapse came as something of a surprise to the sellers and the auction company.
  "We're all out," Royston said of the auction company and the Campbell family of the deal's collapse. "We take a lot of advertising for ourselves, we push to get the bidders there and when something don't close it's tough."
  Royston said the company offered to assist in removing the deed restrictions but Grindstaff declined. He said the Campbell's property kept a marketable title even if the property included use restrictions.
  Both Bush and Royston said an agreement between all parties had been reached involving the earnest money. The real property purchase required 10 percent of the winning bid - approximately $102,690 - paid the day of sale with the balance due in 45 days according to the auction.
  While neither party gave an exact amount paid, Bush did not deny up to 50 percent of the earnest money was released to the sellers.
  "Not every deal you work on is going to work out they way you think it will," Grindstaff said on Friday. "Some deals go and some deals don't."
  Ramsey conducted a three-day public auction during Aug. 18-20 that saw hundreds of personal property items owned by the Campbell family heirs being sold to the highest bidder. Fuddtown's property line extends several feet into the Watauga River, which lies directly behind the property. The Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission gave preliminary approval in August to a site plan dividing the property into six lots.
  Royston said the company had talked with other parties including restaurants interested in purchasing the property outright. He said the company was continuing to work with Campbells. Royston also said the property would not be auctioned again.
  "We are working with some of the backup bidders and we still have other people that are interested in the property," Royston said. "We are working on getting it sold for the sellers.
  "We know it will sell and everything will work out in the end."