After a decade of negotiations, the Marathon site is nearly now ready for development.
The title deed of the half-acre parcel near the intersection of Main and Page streets had a restriction that prevented most types of non-gas station developments on the land, making the property the city bought in 2010 nearly impossible to redevelop.
The restrictive covenant is closer to removal after a unanimous Common Council decision at its Tuesday, June 23, meeting to waive future liability of the previous property owners Speedway LLC. It’ll allow potential developer Todd Nelson, who has been in negotiations with the city over the property since 2017, to redevelop the site. There is currently an offer pending for Nelson to purchase the site.
During the meeting, alders did question if the city would then be at fault for future litigation from property owners.
Jamin Friedl, city director of finance, who has been involved with deed covenant negotiations with Speedway since January, said there was a lot of internal discussion about the agreement.
“RDA does feel there is very minimal, pretty much no risk associated with this property,” Friedl said. “The fact that the DNR has signed off on this property as safe – we feel there is not a ton of risk here.”
City attorney Matt Dregne said the city will recommend requirements to the property buyer to limit liability exposure, such as using the city water, rather than adding a well water system.
Dregne also said the city’s agreement with Speedway waiving its liability would only be applicable if someone were able to prove the company caused environmental damage.
“There would have to be environmental damage that they would suffer, that would be caused by Speedway – either their action or inaction,” Dregne said.
Dregne said Nelson is fully aware of the history of the property including the covenant, because it was Nelson who discovered it when he sought funding from McFarland State Bank in spring 2019.
At that time, Nelson had already agreed to build two four-unit apartments, creating $900,000 in taxable value.
In January, the city received $39,000 from Chicago Title Insurance Company, which was supposed to search the deed for any covenants and restrictions when the city purchased the property, but had failed to do so.
Speedway, the company that owned the Marathon gas station and operated the site from 2000 to 2005.