The Osage Beach Board of Aldermen heard some potentially disturbing news from a local Realtor last week

The Osage Beach Board of Aldermen heard some potentially disturbing news from a local Realtor last week regarding the value of property on Osage Beach Parkway west of the Grand Glaize Bridge.

Mark Beeler, a real estate agent with Re/Max Lake of the Ozarks, told the board during its regular meeting that economic woes are driving down property values.

He said of the seven foreclosures in Osage Beach, all are west of the bridge.

“And there are several more coming down the pike,” he said. “The loss of business and the loss of property values all affect Osage Beach and the county.”

He said unless there is a resolution to the traffic flow and safety issues in the area of Key Largo, “everybody is going to be a loser. I don’t think people will realize the impact until they look at the hard numbers.”

Beeler spoke to the board during the Communications portion of the agenda, and was followed by Kimberly Loehr a business owner west of Rt. KK on Osage Beach Parkway. She also has told the board that businesses are suffering since the Expressway opened last year.

“There is a greater sense of urgency than what people realize,” Beeler said.

In touring the area, Beeler said he found little signage to direct people to businesses west of Rt. KK and that he found 4 ½ times more “dark store fronts” west of Grand Glaize Bridge than east.

As more and more businesses close, “it’s not a healthy environment for investors. At some point in time, somebody will come in realize there is cheap land, and then they will ask the city for incentives.”

As business and property owners find themselves owing more than their properties are worth, they may default on their loans (six held by local banks) and the banks will find themselves holding property with little value.

“With property values continuing to decline west of the bridge we can expect an increase in the number of foreclosures and a decrease in real estate tax revenue,” he predicted.

He offered several examples of how property values have declined:

•Appraisals are between 50 and 60 percent of what they were before the Expressway opened.

•Vacant land east of Grand Glaize Bridge is selling for $9.40 to $13.75 a square foot. Land west of the bridge is selling from $1.13 to $3.26 a square foot.

•There are 4.5 times more empty store fronts on the west side of the bridge compared to the east side.

•At least two properties for sale on the west side are now listed for half of what they were in 20111.

•Three properties currently for sale west of the Grand Glaize Bridge are on the market for about half of what they were listed for in 2011.

“I think the board should carefully consider requests by the west end business owners,” Beeler urged.

Board response

Alderman Steve Kahrs, who represents the west end businesses and residents, thanked both Beeler and Loehr for their interest and involvement.

“This is, quite frankly, what it’s all about. We need to listen to them. It’s very scary,” he said.

In comments later, he added: “I’m extremely concerned in the direction our community is going, especially after the information we heard tonight.”

“I think the city is at a crossroads ― are we going to make a commitment to the community or not? This town needs to get it together and make Osage Beach the start of the lake community,” he added.

Alderman Kevin Rucker said he agrees with comments from his fellow board member, adding that he would like to see Osage Beach staff members consider ways to market the city. The city should look at economic development and marketing issues as areas of responsibility, he said.