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MSD Considers Changes to Property Sales After Questions About Cabel Street Lot

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The Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District is considering changing the way it markets and sells surplus properties after WFPL reports raised questions about the transparency of its process.

Last year, MSD sold a five-acre lot in Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood to pork processor JBS Swift. As emails obtained by WFPL showed, MSD spent months pre-sale coordinating with Swift about the process, and may have been influenced by the perceived preference of Swift to sell the property with a commercial real estate agent.

Once the lot on Cabel Street was listed through Commercial Kentucky for $790,000, Swift made a full-price offer within a day. Meanwhile, another interested buyer was rebuffed when he asked to see the property, and his two offers were largely ignored. One of those offers was $60,000 over the asking price.

In the wake of concerns about its process for selling surplus properties, the agency is discussing changes to how it conducts future transactions, MSD Executive Director Greg Heitzman said.

Though the agency has only had three real estate transactions in the past five years, Heitzman said MSD will have several surplus properties to dispose of over the next few months.

MSD board members discussed switching to a different sales process at MSD’s Infrastructure Committee meeting last month, Heitzman said. The proposal would involve advertising all the available properties in the newspaper, but then hiring a commercial real estate agent to manage the process.

“So that could be a hybrid solution that essentially uses the best of both worlds,” Heitzman said. “We’ll ask the broker to determine, based upon the type of property it is, is it the best offer that’s first received, or in some cases we could do a process and say, ‘We’re going to open this up to the best offer for a week.’ Or two weeks or 30 days, whatever the case may be.”

Heitzman said the MSD board will discuss changing the process at its next meeting, scheduled for March 23.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.