SALISBURY — The county is prepping for a run at the Salisbury Mall, County Manager Gary Page confirmed Wednesday.
But at least one commissioner told Page the property wasn’t slated for a Rowan-Salisbury Schools central office building.
If purchased, Page said, the building could be used for warehouse space or an expansion of the early college program. He said commissioners have discussed several options for the potential property, but did not say cite any specific departments expected to be moved.
“We’ve talked about an incubator for small business. There’s a number of things that would be on the table for consideration,” Page said. “One of the board members made a comment that it was not an indicator of trying to buy this with the intent that it’s not an auction for the school central office.’ ”
Rowan County Commissioners authorized Page to cut a $25,000 check for the auction deposit for the Salisbury Mall after a closed session meeting Tuesday night.
Following the meeting, commissioners refused to give detail on the check or the planned project, but sources told the Post the funds would go toward an online real estate auction house.
Bidding for the mall is scheduled to start on Sept. 23. The deposit amount is $25,000.
Page said the monies are refundable if the county is unsuccessful in the bid war.
Auction.com, which bills itself as the “Nation’s Online Real Estate Marketplace,” has put the starting bid on the 27-year-old mall at $1.5 million.
Page said specific details about the mall’s roof, parking lot and heating and air conditioning systems will be available through the website after the funds are transferred. He expects to cut the check sometime later this week.
“The key is that approving the 25,000 that puts our name in the hat, that w’ere interested in buying the mall and it gives us access to do our due diligence in trying to assess in what would be a fair bid,” Page said. “On anything, when you’re buying property on behalf of the public, you need to do your homework.”
The county plans to review details regarding potential repairs or renovations at the mall in coming weeks, Page said.
“We’ll be looking at all that information over the next two weeks and reporting back to the board on Sept. 16 and at that time they’ll give me a number — a not to exceed bid — and that way I can proceed in the bid process with a cap,” Page said. “As far as that number, I haven’t been given that number yet. Last night was just the first step to participate in the process.”
Page said he was first notified of the potential bid last week when a few commissioners approached him.
“A couple of board members came to me and said they had been thinking about this, might be a good move,” he said. “If you could get 300,000 square feet of office space for $1.5 million that would be an unbelievable buy.”
When asked about the check or the project following Tuesday night’s meeting, Vice Chairman Craig Pierce declined to provide any further detail on the check.
“We authorized Gary to procure a check to participate in this project,” Pierce said. “That’s all I can tell you. Like I said, it’s still in closed session.”
Commissioners initially cited a personnel matter as the reason for the closed session, but quickly added an “economic development matter” and attorney-client talks to the agenda.
Once out of the closed portion, commissioners voted 4-1 with Commissioner Barber as the sole dissenting vote.
Chairman Jim Sides did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.
Barber said he had “too many questions” to give the deposit his nod. He declined to answer questions when asked about the project’s specifics.
“I do not know anything about this until it was brought up in closed session. I had some questions that needed some clear answers before I was going to authorize our county manager to spend taxpayer money,” Barber said, “when we could have waited for two more weeks until our Sept. 16 meeting, and had answers to my and a few other commissioners’ questions, and then we could have taken a vote then.”
Nadmar Realty Group of Great Neck, N.Y., is the mall’s current owner. The company, a privately owned real estate investment and management firm, bought Salisbury Mall for $2.5 million in February 2012. The mall had gone into foreclosure in 2010.
Auction.com’s listing puts the mall’s net operating income at $1.18 million.
Located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd., the mall was built in 1986 and has 316,964 square feet of retail space.
See Thursday’s Post for more information.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.