Lamar seeks eminent domain over unused plant

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 | 3:13 p.m. CST; updated 3:44 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 21, 2009

LAMAR — Officials in this southwest Missouri town are seeking eminent domain over an unused building that's tied up in a lawsuit.

Lamar officials are trying to attract new tenants to the former O'Sullivan Industries building. The company that made ready-to-assemble furniture closed its plant in 2007, leaving its more than 700 workers in Lamar unemployed.

O'Sullivan filed a lawsuit against Structured Equity Advisors, an investment company in Newport Beach, Calif., that tried to buy the building.

That deal was put in limbo after O'Sullivan terminated its agreement with Structured Equity Advisors.

O'Sullivan accuses the company of delayed closing on the real-estate deal, seeking $1.5 million in "earnest" money.

The investment company had planned to lease some of the space to Dallas-based Polymer-Wood Technologies Inc. to employ as many as 475 people.

The eminent domain hearing is scheduled for Feb. 13.

"We're just trying to get this off dead center," said Lynn Calton, the city administrator.

Wachovia Bank holds the deed to the O'Sullivan plant.

Depositions are being taken in the federal case between O'Sullivan and Structured Equity. The trial is set for July 6.

"In a nutshell, we weren't able to get any action" on the building, Calton said, explaining the town's reasoning for starting condemnation proceedings.

"Our goal here is to create jobs," he said. "The O'Sullivan building is still sitting vacant. We need an industry in there."

Calton said filing the legal action won't clear up the issues automatically.

"It's something that will take awhile," he said.

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