Earlier this year, a local real-estate manager told The Athens NEWS that prospects were looking good for the sale of two long-empty uptown Athens properties the defunct Woolworth store site and the former Blue Gator bar/restaurant.
Neither site has sold yet, though John Wharton of University Off-Campus Housing reported Friday that both are still apparently being marketed though one at a heavily discounted price.
Wharton said he is listing the Blue Gator site at 63 N. Court St., and continues to hear from potential buyers, though he couldn't predict when the property might sell.
"We have contacted a lot of people that have expressed an interest in the building, but there is nothing I can say is solid," he reported.
As for the Woolworth site at 31 S. Court St., Wharton said he is not directly involved in marketing that building. He said he does have information that there is "a party that at this time is interested in working with the owner to develop the building," but would provide no further details.
"I'm not sure it's really my place to say much about it," he explained.
The Blue Gator was a blues bar and restaurant owned by GTA Holdings LLC, a local company whose principals included former hostage Terry Anderson. Court Street Management, a company in which Anderson was a partner, ran the business until it closed down due to financial troubles in mid-2008.
When Anderson filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection late in 2009, he claimed in his filing that the mortgage on the building was financially under water in other words, that the mortgage amount was more than the property's market worth.
The site was foreclosed upon, and in February 2010 Hocking Valley Bank, which holds the mortgage, bought it at sheriff's auction for $600,000.
The bank's bid the only one made at the auction was more than $230,000 higher than the minimum bid the county was asking for. A bank official explained at the time that the bank felt the property was worth $600,000, and wanted to make sure it didn't sell for less than that amount.
When The NEWS checked on the property in July, it was being listed on a website of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce with an asking price of $599,000 just under what the bank paid for it. At the time, an official of the Athens County Economic Development Council said that many potential buyers were showing interest in the site.
Since then, however, the asking price for the Blue Gator has been lowered considerably, to $485,000 a drop of nearly 20 percent.
The current price is, however, close to what the county's appraisal of the site, which is $484,870.
An official of the Hocking Valley bank, when asked about sales efforts for the building, referred questions to Wharton.
The main floor and finished basement of the Woolworth building long considered by many the biggest black eye in uptown Athens have been empty since the store closed 17 years ago. The second floor, however, has apartments rented out to college students.
The site is owned by the Gilee Group, LLC, a company formed in 2001 by Carolyn E. Gilmore of Athens. It has been appraised by the county for tax purposes as being worth more than $1.1 million. The NEWS has been consistently unable to locate Gilmore for comment.