Bertinellis lose home to a higher bidder
Soon, Rachel and David Bertinelli will need to leave their 664 Woodside Avenue home. The city rejected their proposal to buy the property, and instead announced last week that they had chosen to enter into negotiations with another bidder, represented by a Coldwell Banker realtor.
Though the Bertinellis have tried to buy their home since the city purchased the property in 1997, they feel their latest bid for the property was eliminated early on from the other competing bids this fall. What has made last week’s announcement so frustrating for them, is that a year ago, they had a very good chance of buying what they consider to be their home. David, a photographer for Browning Arms in Morgan, and Rachel, a DABC licensed wine vendor, have been paying rent to the city on a month-to-month basis for more than eight years. Now, the city could tell them to leave in as short a time as a few weeks. Park City Special Events and Facilities Coordinator Alison Butz did tell them she would try to convince the city to let them stay in their home until April, the Bertinellis say, but ultimately, they feel there are no guarantees.
"For us, especially in the last two and a half years, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster," David said. "We’ve spent our whole married life in this house and we had dreams we wanted to bring this house up to code — and in the end it came down to the money."
The 7,021-square-foot house on Woodside Avenue has five rooms, and by all accounts looks well lived in photos and trophies hang on the walls, and a fishtank sits in the living room. It’s not fancy, the couple admits, but it has character, and often, friends who have large houses themselves, prefer to have dinner parties and summer get-togethers at the Bertinellis. The house was appraised earlier this year at $485,000, which is the amount the Bertinelli’s say they submitted as their bid. Last week, in a press release, City Hall said they had accepted a $575,000 bid for the home.
But this year’s request for proposals (RFP) for the Woodside Avenue house was not the first.
In 2003, the city accepted their offer to negotiate a contract, and in 2004 Rachel and David wife signed a purchase contract. A series of complications during the negotiations, however, eventually voided the contract.
City Manager Tom Bakaly, claims the explanation is relatively straight forward.
"[The Bertinellis] were unable to perform on what they proposed in that selection process, so we went back out for other offers," he says. "The contract was contingent upon being able to demonstrate the financial ability to buy the house and fix it up, and they were unable to deliver."
David said the process was devastating. "It felt like they were treating us like a water treatment plant We feel strung along," he said.
In May, 2004 the Bertinellis say city representatives, including Bakaly, Mayor Dana Williams and Councilman Jim Hier, came to their Woodside Avenue home to discuss the purchase of the property.
"At the meeting, they told us they wanted to see us get the property," Rachel Bertinelli recalls. That May, City Hall asked the Bertinellis to come up with a real estate purchase contract within three weeks, David claims, but he and his wife, and the realtors they consulted, couldn’t make the deadline. Instead, two and a half months later, the city staff chose to write the contract themselves. But the Bertinellis claim there was an issue with that purchase contract: there was a $110,000 construction performance bond included in addition to the purchasing fees, which surprised them, and also an agreement from the city to loan the Bertinellis $110,000 for the construction performance bond. The couple recognized the latter as an error. "Sellers just don’t lend buyers money to remodel," David says. "Even our lawyer was shaking his head We could have signed it, but we were trying to do the right thing." Rachel and a friend approached council with the mistake, she says. The city revised the contract, but when the Bertinellis saw it again, the price for the construction performance bond had jumped to $140,000, the couple says.
"Why would they raise the price? Why would they do that to us?" David still wonders.
Park City Project Manager Phyllis Robinson says the bond was adjusted to meet the requirements necessary to renovate the home.
There were typos in the first draft of the purchase contract, confirms Bakaly, but "[the purchase contract] was corrected and that contract expired in December ’04, and we moved on with another selection process."
The Bertinellis consulted their lawyer and sent the contract with addendums. The city then countered with their own addendums to the contract, Bertinelli says.
"[Then] Tom Bakaly called us and said that we needed to sign the contract as is, or in a few weeks we would be evicted and the city would hold a public open house for the property," he said. "So we signed the contract, but because we couldn’t immediately come up with the construction performance bond, the contract was void."
According to the Bertinellis, the city told them they needed to get a contractor to estimate how much money it would take to remodel the house to bring it up to code. They hired contractors and submitted the paperwork, and afterwards the city informed them that there would be no contract.
David adds that he finds it particularly disheartening this time around because the city had said they wanted to sell the entire parcel the garage, the two homes as a unit, but ended up splitting the property up, and selling their home separately.
Robinson says the city has no plans to evict the Bertinellis this winter.
"We have not given them notice of termination. Until we have settled on the sale of the property, there’s no need for them to vacate the property we know how difficult it is this time of year to find a house," she said.
Robinson and Bakaly note that the council has not yet officially accepted any bids on the property yet, and that there will be a public hearing concerning the proposals for the Woodside Avenue home, as well as the other two buildings that sit on the parcel, on December 22.
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