Editorial: The end of the road?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The news that the proposed High Rock Raceway site will go on the auction block Friday morning hardly comes as a surprise. Rumors have been swirling for weeks and months that something like this was in the offing. It’s the culmination of a chain of events that began with great hopes back in 2005, when Dave Risdon made the initial announcement of the project and said races would be run by 2007. Things quickly began to spiral off course, however, with numerous construction delays, questions about financing, regulatory issues, loan defaults and, finally, a disgruntled investor filing a lawsuit to force the issue.
It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this รณ unfortunate for investors such as Anthony Flores, the Greensboro man who filed suit after he was unable to get any firm answers about the track’s future and his $25,000 investment. It’s unfortunate for local businesses that had hoped the track would bring spinoff possibilities as well as more cash-carrying visitors to the area. It’s unfortunate for former employees of N.C. Finishing and Color-Tex, who had hoped a successful racetrack venture might finally bring the final payments they were due after abruptly losing their jobs. It’s unfortunate for contractors who did work at the site and are still waiting for their pay. Finally, it’s unfortunate to have a potential development crash and burn at a time when the county is staring at a 13 percent jobless rate. Just as news of any business startup or expansion can inspire optimism and confidence that better days are on the horizon, the demise of a proposed development adds to the gloom, even when the project has suffered as many missteps and setbacks as this one.
At this point, no one knows what Friday will bring. Given the previous history and the current economic climate, it’s difficult to imagine an individual or consortium of investors stepping forward to buy the property with the intention of seeing the racetrack project through. The property apparently is encumbered with millions of dollars in liens. Beyond the financial hazards, there also may be environmental issues relating to cleanup of contamination from the earlier textile operations.
Still, one person’s misfortune is often another’s opportunity. Even with the 200-acre site’s liabilities, a savvy investor may see it as a bargain at a fire-sale price. We’d like to think such an investor is out there, with a viable idea that would offer an economic boost to the area while creating some local jobs. But as for the venture known as High Rock Raceway, it looks like the end of the road. And what a bumpy, tortuous journey it has been.