Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cashing In

Since I posted my last blog, “No Building Left Behind,” I have learned more about the history of the property at 807 Washington St., usually referred to as the Adelphia building. It would be more accurate to call it the Singer building, since Dr. Herbert I. Singer, of Los Angeles, owned it and Adelphia was only leasing it from him.

What I have learned is that Mike Mearan may be an even bigger shyster than I thought, and Dr. Singer may be one of his victims.

I have learned that Mearan bought the property at the southwest corner of Washington and 9th Streets on 31 Dec. 31 1984 for $740,000. Two months later, on 1 March 1985, Mearan then sold that same property to Dr. Singer for $835,000. So Mearan owned the property for only two months before selling it to Singer for a profit of $95,000. Who was Singer relying on for advice about Portsmouth real estate if not Mearan? It is not likely Singer knew he was paying $95,000 more for the property than Mearan had paid for it just two months earlier. Singer should have been told by Mearan back in 1985 that the Washington St. property was not a good investment. By 1985 it was apparent that Portsmouth proper was not a good place to invest in commercial real estate. Portsmouth’s best commercial days were far behind it.

The steady decline in the appraised value of the Washington St. property since 1985 confirms that it was not a good investment. As of 10 Oct. 10 1997, the property was assessed by the County Auditor at $305,130. That’s much less than Singer had paid Mearan for it in 1985. As of 1 Jan. 2004, the assessment figure for the property had dropped all the way to $111,940, which is only 13% of what Singer had paid for it. So, in about twenty years, from 1985 to 2004, the appraised figure for the property had plummeted from the $835,000 Singer had paid for it in 1985, down to $111,940. Usually, property increases in value, but not in Portsmouth.

In representing Singer in the donation of the property to the city, Mearan may be cashing in on his relationship with Singer one more time. Mearan is taking advantage of somebody who reportedly had never been to Portsmouth, and somebody who now may be in his dotage. Singer showed poor judgment in paying as much he did for the Washington Street property, but he showed even worse judgment in hiring Mearan to represent him.

In addition to learning Mearan had paid $740,000 for the property on 31 Dec. 2004, I learned Mearan had bought the property from Jeffrey Albrecht, who now owns the Ramada Inn. It was Albrecht who sold the property in 1984 to Mearan for $740,000. Since Albrecht has been rumored to be one of those interested in acquiring the site of the present City Building, in Portsmouth, which is located directly across the street from the Ramada Inn, you can begin to appreciate the folk wisdom of the saying, “What goes around, comes around.” If Albrecht were ever to come into possession of the City Building site, things would have come full circle. The City Building would be torn down at the same time a new city building would be rising on the corner of Washington and 9th Street, which Albrecht once owned. The circle would be really complete because Albrecht and Mearan would be in the thick of the monkey business, as they were over twenty years ago on Washington Street.

I did not put any credence in the rumor that Albrecht was interested in the site across from the Ramada Inn, because who would know better than Albrecht, captain of “The Queen of the Rust Belt,” as his motel has been nicknamed, that the area is not “prime real estate,” even though our dunce mayor repeats that it is. But maybe the mayor is right. If the Washington Street property was worth $835,000 in 1985, and the Marting building $1.9 million in 2003, then the land across from the Ramada may be worth $10 million in 2010, or whenever gambling comes to Portsmouth. And now that Mearan has been appointed to the City Council, and has insinuated himself deep into the body politic of Portsmouth, like a trichinella worm in pork, anything is possible. Then he will be cashing in on all of us, not just Dr. Singer.

Mearan made a quick $95,000 on this property