Nineteenth Century Club Bond Posted

By Bill Dries

Plaintiffs seeking to stop planned demolition of the Union Avenue mansion once home to the Nineteenth Century Club haven’t cinched a deal with the property’s new owner, but they have closed on a court appeal that could take years to play out.

(Daily News/Lance Murphey)

The appeal in Chancery Court also has given them more time to find a buyer who would agree to preserve the mansion.

The plaintiffs posted an additional $50,000 bond Thursday, Oct. 31, as they appeal a Chancery Court decision permitting the demolition of the mansion to make way for a retail shopping center.

The additional bond was ordered by Chancellor Walter Evans at an Oct. 16 hearing that set conditions for the appeal to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Evans ruled in September that the club’s leadership acted legally when its leaders decided to sell the mansion to Union Group LLC, the group seeking to demolish the club headquarters and build the retail center with a restaurant as its anchor. Evans also said plans for the demolition could go ahead.

But Evans then stayed the effect of the order pending an appeal by the plaintiffs, who contend the decision to sell violated the club’s bylaws.

They had worked out a tentative settlement with Union Group in which a Nashville businessman planned to buy the property and preserve the mansion while opening a restaurant in it. Dave Wachtel, however, did not meet the deadline to post $40,000 in earnest money from his investors, and the plan fell through.

That’s when the case went back to Evans, who set conditions for pursuing the appeal.

Evans set the additional $50,000 bond because most of the money from the sale remains frozen by the court while the case is on appeal – including most of the proceeds the Nineteenth Century Club donated to the Children’s Museum of Memphis.

Attorneys for the museum contend the money has already been committed to a museum project and the prospect of an appeal means possibly years of delay that could damage the museum.

Attorneys for Union Group say the group is unlikely to be granted a new demolition permit when its current permit runs out with the new year.

Evans ruled in October that he would not yet hear arguments on possible damage claims.