Family buys back auctioned property with cashier's checkThe soap opera that is the Flavel property saga took another turn last week when Harry and Mary Louise Flavel bought back one of their auctioned-off downtown properties.

On the last day allowed, a representative from the reclusive brother and sister came to the Clatsop County Sheriff's Office last Tuesday and presented a cashier's check for almost $69,000 to buy back the run-down building at the southeast corner of Ninth and Commercial streets.

"I knew they would do it," said Jim Neikes, who bought the building at the sheriff's auction last February - and for a brief period raised hopes that the long-neglected property might finally join the rest of Astoria's downtown rehabilitation.

The Flavels' move was allowed under a law that gives the original property owner 180 days from the day of the auction to pay off the buyer and take back title.

The Flavels paid Neikes $68,918.73 - the original $50,000 purchase price Neikes paid plus the $20,896 in back property taxes he paid to the county, minus the $5,410 that Neikes received from the building's one tenant, Raymond James Financial Services. Neikes also received 9 percent interest.

Neikes had hoped to restore the building's two vacant addresses and rent them out - several people had expressed interest in opening up a restaurant in the former Ira's space. But aside from installing new locks on the doors, he made no other improvements to building, specifically out of fear that the Flavels would exercise their right of redemption and take the property back.

Neikes isn't out any money himself - the 9 percent interest he received more than covered the cost of his original loan - but the Flavels' move has him mystified.

"Nobody can quite figure out why. They must have got someone to back them - good luck to them," he said.

Portland attorney Gary Blacklidge, who represented the Flavels in this buy back, did not return phone calls. The cashier's check given to the sheriff's office came from the Bank of the Cascades in Bend.

The Flavels served notice to Neikes that they intended to buy back the property earlier this month - the day before another auction was held to sell off another downtown Flavel property. Despite the notice, Neikes bought that property as well, beating out three other bidders with a top bid of $80,000.

Given what's happened with the first building, Neikes said he expects the Flavels will likely buy back this property as well. And for that reason, he doesn't plan to make any major improvements, at least not until the end of the six-month buy-back period.

Under the redemption law, the Flavels would be required to pay Neikes for any repairs done to "prevent waste," such as fixing leaky windows or roofs. But any other remodeling improvements are not covered.

Both auctions were ordered by Clatsop County Circuit Court Judge Phil Nelson to satisfy a $94,000 judgment against the Flavels stemming from the long-running dispute between the brother and sister and Robert and Elizabeth Stricklin. The Stricklins' claim was satisfied by the money raised by the two auctions, and the Flavels' buy-back of the first property doesn't affect that.

Clatsop County has foreclosed on a third Flavel property, a residence at 15th Street and Franklin Avenue, and will take possession in November unless the taxes are paid.


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