April 11, 2013

Auction of Charles Wheeler’s house canceled

The former mayor had fallen behind on property taxes but now apparently can stay put until July, when he and his wife plan to move into a duplex.

An auction planned for today to sell the home of former Mayor Charles Wheeler, who had fallen behind on property taxes, has been canceled.

Wheeler’s attorney told The Star today that the decision to hold off by mortgage holder James B. Nutter & Co. would give Wheeler time to move out of the Ward Parkway area home and into a duplex.

“The plan always was to get his wife into a better environment,” Greg Leyh said. “That is the piece of this that Dr. Wheeler will be focusing on.”

The reason for the planned auction, which had been set for today on the courthouse steps, was the former mayor’s failure to pay about $40,000 in back property taxes on the house, which is valued at $620,138.

Wheeler, 86, said last week that “a lot of my equity has been drained out of it because of my wife’s illness.”

A reverse mortgage on the home on West 53rd Street originated with Nutter & Co. and was secured in a deed filed in 2007. A reverse mortgage is a tool used by senior citizens to tap equity in their homes as retirement income. Typically, the homeowner pays the property taxes, but records show Nutter paid the bill the last two years.

James B. Nutter Sr. said today that the last thing the company wants to do is foreclose on anyone.

“We have done everything we could, for the longest time, to help Charlie Wheeler keep his home,” Nutter said. “It is sad, but years of non-payment of property taxes, as required by law, makes it difficult for us to help him anymore.

“The best thing for Charles to do is find a place to live that is smaller, more manageable and more affordable. We just ask that, after years of promises, Charlie give us his word, in writing, that he will be moved and settled in a new location by July 2013.”

Wheeler, who is both a doctor and lawyer by training, served two terms as mayor beginning in 1971. During his tenure, Crown Center, Kansas City International Airport and Worlds of Fun opened. The downtown airport is named after him. He is also a former state senator.

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