The State Newspaper: By Clif LeBlanc: Columbia, SC — About 95 acres of undeveloped land surrounding the Village at Sandhill shopping complex sold Tuesday for $850,000 in overdue taxes, Richland County Treasurer David Adams said.
That was the winning bid for the tracts at the county’s annual delinquent property tax auction, he said. Adams would not release the name of the bidder because, under the law, the bidder will not own the 94.5 acres until Dec. 10, 2014. That’s because state law permits the current property owner, Alan B. Kahn, 365 days after bids to make good on delinquent taxes, in this case for 2012 and 2013.
The tracts sold Tuesday are behind and along a side of the nearly 1.5 million-square-foot Clemson Road complex of 101 stores, restaurants and a theater, as well as 160 apartments, in Northeast Richland. The auctioned land amounts to almost one-third of the entire 298-acre site that holds the complex.
The taxes are owed by Village at Sandhill LLC, whose registered agent is Kahn, according to records in the S.C. Secretary of State’s Office.
Kahn said in an interview that he intends to keep the undeveloped tracts if he can attract new business to the complex.
“We’re working hard on adding to the Village ... and we’re going to continue to market to users and continue to expand,” he said by telephone after the auction at the Township Auditorium. “We would like to bring an office and institutional component. I’m making assiduous efforts to find users (tenants).”
Institutional development could mean medical or public safety facilities, such as a fire station, Kahn said. But no contracts have been signed and nothing is firm, he said.
Kahn developed the sprawling shopping and residential complex in Northeast Richland starting in 2004. This spring, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, seeking protection from his creditors. Bankruptcy documents show that two of his real estate companies – Kahn Family LLC and Kahn Properties South LLC – owe up to $250 million to about 50 creditors.
Kahn has until Dec. 21 to submit a creditor repayment plan to the bankruptcy judge.
The county treasurer said the winning bid would cover the $840,446 taxes and penalties owed on the undeveloped tracts.
Village at Sandhill LLC – a limited liability corporation – owes $476,278 in 2012 taxes and $328,934 for 2013 on a 92.5-acre tract, Adams said. Taxes on a smaller tract amount to $35,234 for 2012, he said.
The parts of the complex that are developed paid about $665,000 in 2012 taxes, Adams said. Kahn said 183 acres have been developed.
Kahn disputes that the money owed is for property taxes. He said that revenue from the complex goes toward retiring a 25-year bond approved by the county. Revenue bonds generally do not carry taxpayer liability.
“It’s not like a regular guy not paying his taxes,” Kahn said. “It’s bond money, not taxes. It’s different.”
The Village still attracts new businesses, he said, citing recently opened Grow Financial Federal credit union and East Coast Pizzeria, which is under construction. Overall, Kahn said, sales at the retail outlets are up compared to a year ago. He was not able to provide an exact figure.
The occupancy rate in the retail portion has held steady at 90 percent, Kahn said. Occupancy in the residential units is at least that much, he said.
“We’re trying to bring vertical development to the peripheral land,” Kahn said of the 95 acres that were auctioned.
Reach LeBlanc at (803) 771-8664.