Story by Press Reporter: Shannon Taylor
Tony Winstead, owner of the property on court square in Dresden that was previously Majestic House has hired attorney Langdon Unger to address the issue of his property being demolished without his permission.
In a letter by Unger directed to city recorder Jennifer Branscum, Unger stated, “I have been contacted by Tony and Inju Winstead concerning the demolition and cleanup on the above-referenced property. For various reasons, they are taking a position that they do not owe anything to the City of Dresden for this. The Winstead’s advised me that they never agreed to this demolition and in fact, could have the work done for a fraction of what was going to be charged by the City of Dresden. Additionally, they lost a significant amount of personal property due to the demolition.”
Washburn stated at the city board meeting August 1st that he had been in contact with Mr. Winstead who advised him to contact his daughter. Washburn said he contacted his daughter, Tiana, and she asked Washburn to mail her the documents he was referencing concerning the buying of a piece of property that Winstead owns behind where his building was located that the city wants to acquire. Washburn stated that he told Mr. Winstead that he would recommend to the board that “We would forgive what his billing was for the demolition of the hotel if he were so inclined to deed that piece of property to us.”
Washburn advised the board that the city had received a letter from Mr. Winstead’s attorney concerning the demolition of his property. “I’d say that this is one way that he wouldn’t have to do that through this offer. The city’s administration is definitely open to communicating with him and go back and forth with offers and counteroffers and bring them to the board for the board’s consideration.”
Washburn stated that Mr. Winstead’s demolition was “somewhere around $24,000.00.” Washburn stated that there was also some dispute concerning what those amounts should be from Dickey Hutcherson, Keely Wilson Nanney and Tony Winstead. The dispute is that the total amount of $129,000.00 should have included the city sidewalks which would have made the total amount after being divided by property owners, a smaller amount. “I think they have a good point. My personal opinion is that they ought to include the sidewalks.”
It was also noted that there was a cap put on the amounts billed to each property owner that could not exceed $25,000.00 by the contractor because he did not have a current contract license and would not be able to demolish anything over that amount. The amount for Mr. Winstead’s property was stated to have exceed that amount of 25K and was lowered to fall in line with that.
The board voted unanimously to recalculate the square footage of the entire block that was demolished.
Mayoral candidate Mike Vernon, who is the nephew in-law of Mr. Winstead spoke to the board and stated that “I know were sitting here calculating the prices of the properties and what they should and shouldn’t be, but Mr. Winstead doesn’t believe that the amount that was given for him to pay is owed and that he could’ve gotten it cheaper elsewhere.” Vernon went on to say that any questions from here on out would need to go through Unger, but that the portion of the land that the city was interested in that he was willing to sell that piece to the city.
Washburn stated that they would be glad to talk with his attorney. “We’ll communicate with Mr. Unger in regard to what we might do to settle the acquisition of that piece of land that we’re interested in acquiring.”
The Press spoke with Mr. Winstead about the property and whether he’d be willing to deed that piece of property over to the city of Dresden in exchange for not paying the demolition costs and Winstead said the answer to that is, “No. I could probably be open to selling it, but I do not owe them the money for the demolition and I’ve told him that in writing and even had an attorney write him a letter-so if I don’t owe that then why would I give that property in return for him forgiving the debt?”
Winstead said he was also unaware that the contractor that demolished the property was not a licensed contractor. “That’s the very reason he [Washburn] wouldn’t allow local contractors to bid on it is because the contract was more than 25K and the local contractors that I know of had a cap of 25K, or at least that’s what they told me.”
Winstead said that a local contractor that he had in line to demolish the building said that he would do it for $9,000.00. Winstead went on to say that if all the other buildings, which were smaller than his building, aside from city hall were demolished at $5,000.00 for each using local contractors, that comes to $39,000.00-where did the other $90,000.00 come from? Winstead said that he doesn’t understand the pricing that came into play for all the buildings being demolished at the price the city is saying it was demolished for.
Winstead and Vernon both said that at the FEMA meetings, a representative from FEMA said that they would not release the money for rebuilding City Hall until the city owns the property, and the city has everything under control.
Winstead stated that one thing that confused him was that “It cost $129,000.00 to demolish all of that and he [Washburn] hasn’t even finished all that he said he would do. He’s supposed to remove all the footing and concrete and asphalt and it’s still there.”
Winstead said that he’s not trying to be uncooperative because he wants to see the city build back, but he stated that all he is seeing is poor planning or no planning at all. “It makes me not want to get involved until I see something happening.”
This is a developing story.