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Mansion offer being mulled
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City officials remain hopeful that Bank of America will accept a short sale offer made by them to acquire the historic Clinton Whitmore Mansion.

The city has offered BofA $375,000 for the historic home and grounds which has been used as an event center. If approved, the property would be paid for by city park funds.

"The volume of short sales is great," said City Attorney Mike Lyions. "BofA appears to have a tremendous administrative process that they go through. But it does look like we are on track to have a decision before the end of November."

The City Council - said by Lyions to be "anxious to get their hands on it" - recently approved a general plan amendment to rezone the property to park use.

"That will be an iconic piece of property, looking out to the future, for the city to own," said Lyions.

The owners of the home, Cary and Nancy Pope, are being foreclosed on and the city's offer caused BofA to postpone an intended sale date of July 17 to Aug. 17.

The Popes paid $1.3 million for the mansion property in 2005. City officials said the Popes have an unpaid balance of $850,000 on the BofA mortgage and there is a second and third loan of $350,000 and $75,000 respectively. The junior lienholders would have to agree to the short sale price for the deal to happen.

If approved the city and BofA would engage in a 30-day escrow.

Operated by the Whitmore Mansion Foundation, the mansion and its grounds are rented out for weddings, private parties, company gatherings, community events and regional government socials. But the economy has affected revenue to pay the mortgage.

The Clinton Whitmore Mansion is one block north of the Daniel Whitmore Home, which is owned by the city as the historic first residence ever built in Ceres.

The 8,000-square-foot mansion was built in 1903 by Clinton Whitmore, the son of Ceres founder Daniel Whitmore. The house remained in the Whitmore family until Robert and Edna Whitmore sold it in 2005 to Cary and Nancy Pope.

The Ceres City Council decided in May to proceed with an offer despite believing that the offer is a long shot.