Harrison County

Major land deal comes with firm deadline in D'Iberville

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD/FILE 
 D'Iberville has given developer Robert Mandal a deadline of Jan. 30 to complete the sale of the former Ocean Expo property along Interstate 10. The city bought the land from Mandal in 2011 for the aquarium that never was built and Mandal agreed last year to buy it back in a multi-part deal.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD/FILE D'Iberville has given developer Robert Mandal a deadline of Jan. 30 to complete the sale of the former Ocean Expo property along Interstate 10. The city bought the land from Mandal in 2011 for the aquarium that never was built and Mandal agreed last year to buy it back in a multi-part deal. SUN HERALD

D'IBERVILLE -- Nearly a year after city officials agreed to sell the Ocean Expo site along Interstate 10 back to Ramco Real Estate, the deal still hasn't closed.

Tired of waiting, the City Council on Tuesday gave Robert Mandal Jr., D'Iberville auto dealer and owner of Ramco, a Jan. 30 deadline to close the $7.6 million cash transaction.

To get that extension, Mandal agreed to reduce by $800,000 the city's promissory note he holds on the property, which he sold to the city in 2011.

That $800,000 doesn't come back to Mandal even if he does meet the deadline to buy the 8-acre site.

"We got the forgiveness today," city attorney W. Fred Hornsby III said after Tuesday's council meeting.

He said Mandal expects to close on the land within the next week.

The council already gave the developer an extension on the six-month option agreed to in February, Hornsby said. At that time, Mandal put down a $25,000 deposit on the land.

Beyond an extension to the end of January, "Council was not ready to take the risk," he said.

D'Iberville taxpayers have covered three payments of more than $300,000 each on the bond used to buy the land for an aquarium site. Part of the admission price to the aquarium was to cover the bond payment but the aquarium never was built.

Mandal owns the adjacent land, where he has plans to build a shopping center.

All other provisions of the multi-part deal remain the same if the sales goes through in time:

-- D'Iberville will provide a $2 million tax-increment financing bond to Mandal to build two auto dealerships on the site, one of which is a new dealership not operating in South Mississippi.

-- D'Iberville will buy Mandal's dealership on Automall Parkway at a price determined by the lowest of two appraisals and move the city's Public Works Department into it.

-- The current public works building, along with the old sewer plant next to it, would then be available for a "green" development proposed for the site.

Hornsby has said the auto dealerships are expected to create 40 jobs and provide $600,000 in annual sales-tax revenue.

In other action Tuesday:

-- D'Iberville police Sgt. Floyd Sherrell was promoted to lieutenant.

-- Sabrina Martin donated her grandfather's service flag to be flown over the D'Iberville library in memory of him. Edward Gerald Soder served in the U.S. Army infantry in Germany.

-- Public works director Mike Mullins reported the city's water department scored a perfect 5 in the latest inspection.

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