published Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Lender CCDFI buys back vacant lots from Tennessee Multicultural Chamber

Attorney David Elliott, center, representing the Chattanooga Community Development Financing Institution, auctions off two pieces of M.L. King Boulevard property on the Hamilton County Courthouse steps Monday owned by the Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce. Leaning against the rail at left is Dr. Thomas Brooks, who owns property next to the two lots. The CCDFI submitted opening bids of $250,000 for each piece of property and no higher bids were made.
Attorney David Elliott, center, representing the Chattanooga Community Development Financing Institution, auctions off two pieces of M.L. King Boulevard property on the Hamilton County Courthouse steps Monday owned by the Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce. Leaning against the rail at left is Dr. Thomas Brooks, who owns property next to the two lots. The CCDFI submitted opening bids of $250,000 for each piece of property and no higher bids were made.
Photo by John Rawlston.
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After recently losing its executive director and its offices, the Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce on Monday lost some of the land where it once planned to build a center to boost minority business.

Two lots on M.L. King Boulevard that the minority chamber bought in 2008 were sold at auction. The winning bids -- $250,000 apiece -- came from the financial institution that loaned the money for the lots in 2008.

The Chattanooga Community Development Financial Institution will receive whatever is unspent from its $579,000 loan to the chamber and will get title to the properties at 423 and 439 E. M.L. King Blvd., said attorney and trustee David Elliott, with Grant, Konvalinka and Harrison.

Only one other bid was made. Dr. Thomas Brooks bid $25,000 for 349 E. M.L. King, which he said is next to a business he owns.

When the loan was made in 2008, the properties were valued for tax purposes at $211,000, county records show. CCDFI did not ask for a new appraisal before making the loan to the multicultural chamber.

David Johnson, president of CCDFI and Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, did not return a call Monday seeking comment on the organization's plans for the properties.

  • photo
    Multiple vacant lots are photographed Wednesday in the 400 block of MLK Blvd., leading up to the former Renewal Barber Shop at 423 MLK Blvd., seen in the background.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

No one from the Multicultural Chamber attended the auction. Chamber board Chairman Walter Hitchcock did not return a call seeking comment.

Last week, Hitchcock announced that the minority chamber founded in 1999 was being reorganized. He said Sherrie Gilchrist had resigned as executive director and that volunteers were running the chamber.

The organization also has moved out of offices at 535 Chestnut St. and into what Hitchcock said were rent-free offices in a former school on South Highland Park Avenue.

The Multicultural Chamber bought the M.L. King lots in 2008 from Bishop W.C. Hunter, pastor of The World's Church of the Living God, and from Frances A. McWhirter, according to newspaper archives. Records show the land Hunter owned appraised at $46,600 and McWhirter's at $165,200.

The plan was to build a Business Solutions Center, but it never came to fruition.

Gilchrist borrowed another $150,000 from SunTrust bank in 2009, using the property and the chamber's possessions as collateral, records show.

Elliott said SunTrust's interest would essentially be erased by the auction sale.

A spokesman for SunTrust said Monday the bank does not comment on client relations.

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about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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zulalily said...

Why don't you forget Littlefield for five minutes and help see that this thieving outfit doesn't ever get one more penny of taxpayer dollars--not from the city and not from the county!!!!!

October 4, 2011 at 1:11 p.m.
NoMyth said...

This requires more in-depth investigation. So, the Chattanooga Community Development Financial Institution and Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, both purported charitable, non-profit organizations, owned this land, sold the lots for $500k total, will get back a small fraction of their $579k loan, and now are buying the lots again for $500k? What amount have taxpayers contributed to this scam? How many charitable donors are being duped by these fake charities that are a front for Chattanooga attorneys and real estate developers? Chattanooga is starting to feel a lot like Russia.

October 4, 2011 at 8:50 p.m.
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