Spirited showdown expected at City Council to decide sale of former hospital site

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Monday, December 12, 2016

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City Council will hear an offer from a second bidder for the former Allen Bennett Hospital site Tuesday at 5 p.m. The offer is for $250,000 more than a previous bid.

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City Council will hear an offer from a second bidder for the former Allen Bennett Hospital site Tuesday at 5 p.m. The offer is for $250,000 more than a previous bid.


The withdrawal of an injunction to stay Greer City Council’s second reading of an ordinance to sell the former Allen Bennett Hospital nearly 10-acre site has set up a spirited showdown at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall for ownership that is separated by $250,000.

“The city now admits that it is free to take the best offer,” said a spokesperson for JBM Leasing LLC. “We agree. We will be at the meeting Tuesday night, prepared to show that JBM’s offer is the best.”

So will 313 Memorial Drive, a competing bidder who already negotiated and was given first reading approval for a $2.1 million bid for the property.

313 Memorial Drive’s owner is Jim Benson of Benson Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. Attorney Brian Martin represented Benson in the bidding and negotiations and said he will be at City Hall to remind Council to uphold its agreement of Nov. 22 and resulting vote on Ordinance 34-2016, authorizing the sale of the former hospital property to his client.

JBM’s owner is Mark Escude, of Nissan of Greer, Hyundai of Greer, Kia of Greer and Toyota of Greer. Greer real estate agent Jeff Howell represented JBM. A state-of-the-art Nissan dealership is planned for the site, according to JBM.

Benson’s group offered no economic plan and Driggers said that would be announced after a sale is completed.

Attorneys for JBM alleged the City made an apparent secret deal, selling the former hospital campus to an undisclosed purchaser for $250,000 less than the property would bring on the open market.

City Administrator Ed Driggers, Mayor Rick Danner and Executive Director of Greer Development Corporation Reno Deaton also were named in the lawsuit.

“The whole premise of (JBM) is that we should take more money,” Driggers said.

The Greer Development Corporation’s announced request for proposal for the former hospital property closed on Oct. 4. There were no bidders.

After competing $1.5 million and $1.8 million bids by both groups were declined, Driggers told JBM and 313 Memorial Drive groups on Nov. 16 no bids under $2.1 million would be accepted. The city, according to Driggers, no longer was working under the RFP guidelines for offers.

Greenville Hospital System donated the property to the city in 2010.

Driggers figured the city was already at a loss for $1.083 million with the property with remediation to regain the property it originally sold and won back in bankruptcy court. Included was more than $800,000 the city paid for the site’s demolition.

Driggers, according to his sworn affidavit, said the city wanted to net $1 million on the sale of the property to renovate the Kids Planet Playground.

Council will then go into executive session to discuss the legal issues after the public forum.

Council’s options are to approve the ordinance, rescind it or delay it.




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