The dismantling and removal of a derelict barge from Chattanooga's riverfront will have to await the finalizing of a loan to finance the work and the approval of federal regulators, an attorney said Wednesday.
Jerrold Farinash, trustee in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court case involving businessman Allen Casey's barge, said he's trying to get a price for both jobs.
"What I'm trying to get put into place is a total resolution," he told Judge Shelly D. Rucker at a hearing. "We're trying to do everything at one price. I don't want to piecemeal that."
He said he'd be surprised if cleanup work on the barge started before the next hearing slated for March 25. On Tuesday, the City Council agreed to waive some waste fees for salvage of the barge.
Farinash said there's a proposal to take off the superstructure of the rundown vessel that's moored on the waterfront across from Ross's Landing.
Also, he said, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have to sign off on the project. The U.S. Coast Guard also will be involved, Farinash said.
Judge Rucker said Chattanooga is heading into the March rainy season and wanted to ensure the barge is secure.
"That's the court's primary concern. The court is a little anxious. We've been here a year," she said. It was about a year ago when a Casey company filed for bankruptcy, giving up on his plan to turn the barge into a restaurant and bar.
Farinash said there are a lot of parts to bring together.
"We're streaming ahead hopefully, but there are a lot of things which have to happen," he said.
Last month, an attorney for a Casey company said that Southern Community Bank in Tullahoma, Tenn., had agreed to loan up to $225,000 to fund the removal of the barge that has been at the site since 2009.
Attorney David Fulton said the bank would receive a first lien on adjacent vacant property on which Casey had hoped to build condominiums and a hotel.
Casey was never able to fulfill his dream of a riverfront restaurant, the vessel fell into disrepair and Casey and his company filed for bankruptcy in the face of a lawsuit from investors.
Fulton said the barge's removal would make it easier to sell the property, a portion of which has been valued at upwards of $10 million. He said the loan would be repaid from the sale of the land, which fronts Manufacturers Road.
Jackson Wingfield, who owns part of the property and the dock to which the barge is moored, said he'd like to see the barge moved before it's dismantled.
"It's not my choice," he added.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.