No deed for Cutliff Grove land

ALBANY, Ga. -- If the city wants to try to reclaim a part of the $374,000 that has been spent on a failed community development project, it must take a local church to court after a security deed that would allow them to take the property has not been found, city officials say.

The city's efforts to reclaim at least a portion of the money that is being repaid by the city to the federal government appear to have become more complicated after city officials said that no documents have been found to suggest that a security deed was ever drafted or signed between the city and Cutliff Grove for the property where they intended to build low-income housing.

"Going back to the beginning, years ago, there are no documents that suggest that a deed was ever executed by the city," Assistant City Manager James Taylor said. "When we first noticed that there was an oversight or omission, we attempted to get them to sign one about two years ago and they refused."

This week, Commissioner Roger Marietta offered a motion to the board that City Attorney Nathan Davis be given 60 days to prepare a legal strategy in effort to try to reclaim at least a portion of the money.

It seemed as though the city was preparing to put a lien on the property for as much of the $374,000 they could get, but with the absence of a security deed, Taylor said that they'll now have to take the church to court to justify the lien, unless the church decides to sell the property or donate it to the city.

After years of trying to get a low-cost housing development off the ground, Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center's Grovetown Project was deemed to be ineligible for federal funding by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was subsequently stripped of its status as a Community Development Housing Organization or CHDO by the city, which prompted HUD to demand repayment of $374,000 that had been spent on the project.

If the city is ultimately able to reclaim money from the property, the amount could vary -- the property is valued at roughly $96,000 --but it would likely be only a small percentage of what the city must pay back.