The removal of a controversial barge from downtown Chattanooga's waterfront has taken a big step closer after a company offered $50,000 for the vessel, an attorney for businessman Allen Casey said Saturday.
Chattanooga attorney David Fulton said a North Georgia firm on Friday offered the $50,000 minimum bid, and that a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge is to review the bid this week.
"We anticipate it will be accepted," he said.
The bidder is RCW Construction, of Trenton, Ga., according to Susie Lodico, one of the attorneys representing a group of investors suing Casey. She said RCW proposes to partner with another company to buy and salvage the barge.
It's unclear how the barge, which has a structure that Casey had wanted to turn into a restaurant and bar, will be removed from its location across from Ross's Landing.
Fulton said he has heard that it may have to be dismantled first, or the vessel could be transported as it is.
"I'm hearing two different scenarios," he said.
The attorney said the bidder, if approved, will work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the removal procedure.
"Everybody wants it out of there," Fulton said.
The dilapidated barge has drawn the ire of civic leaders and others including the corps, which earlier this year revoked its river permit and ordered its removal. Casey, who had developed the Chattanooga Choo Choo over three decades ago, had floated the barge from Pittsburgh to Chattanooga in 2009.
But, Casey and his company, River City Resort, filed bankruptcy petitions as they faced a civil trial in Hamilton County Chancery Court over a lawsuit brought by investors.
Chattanooga attorney Gary Patrick, another attorney representing the investors, said Casey and his company defrauded his clients relating to a portion of an 11-acre waterfront tract to which the barge is moored. Casey has denied the claims.
In addition, there's still a dispute over who will garner the proceeds of the barge's sale, if it is approved.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Shelley Rucker, who ordered the bidding process for the barge, said last month that the money initially is to go into an escrow account.
The undeveloped waterfront land, which is off Manufacturers Road, is up for sale. An earlier appraisal had put the value of Casey's land and nearby tracts at millions of dollars. Casey had wanted to put condominiums and a hotel on the site.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.