Nineteenth Century Club Remains in Limbo

By Bill Dries

The deal to prevent the demolition of the Nineteenth Century Club building in Midtown is still tentative. But it has more time from Chancellor Walter Evans for the prospective new owners to put up $40,000 in earnest money.

Nashville businessman Dave Wachtel is proposing to buy the mansion from Union Group LLC, the company that bought the property from the women’s club and planned to demolish it to build a retail center.

Wachtel has until Oct. 15 to pay the earnest money to Union Group. He would close on the deal later, probably in December using financing driven by a combination of historic tax credits and a façade easement agreement with the preservation group Memphis Heritage.

Both parts of the financing hinge on Wachtel and his investors leaving the mansion intact and in place.

Attorneys for the Nineteenth Century Club and the Children’s Museum of Memphis wants Evans to dismiss the lawsuit in Chancery Court contesting the original sale to Union Group as soon as Wachtel pays the earnest money.

They contend at that point the court case over the sale and possible demolition is over and any differences are between Wachtel and the Union Group.

Also still being worked out as the Monday, Sept. 30, hearing began in Chancery Court was what bond if any would be required of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit for a continued stay pending appeal of Evans’ September order saying the building could be demolished. And the Children’s Museum, which got most of the proceeds from the sale of the building to the Union Group by the club, wanted an agreement that they could use $10,000 of the proceeds in a court-controlled fund to pay a payment Tuesday on a project the museum had committed to before the lawsuit was filed. Attorneys for the Union Group said they could not agree to that.

If Wachtel doesn’t pay the earnest money by Oct. 15, Evans would see all sides in the lawsuit back in court and attorneys for the plaintiffs said they will likely argue for a continued stay while they appeal his original ruling in the case.