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Fair group looks to double its offer; $1 million being discussed for fairgrounds

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY ó After a meeting with county officials this week, the Rowan County Fair Association may double its offer to buy the county fairgrounds.
Fair Manager Johnny Love said Friday the association is considering paying the county $1 million to take ownership of the fairgrounds and build an event center there.
Last month, the Rowan County Agricultural and Industrial Fair association formally offered $500,000 for about 40 acres of property on Julian Road.
ěThe tax value is roughly $1.3 million,î Love said. ěWe figure $300,000 is what the appraiser said the buildings were worth. If you take those off, because the fair association built those and paid for those, $1 million is what the value would be.î
Love said the existing offer amounted to about $12,500 per acre. In November 2009, commissioners considered a prior offer from the association at the same price but said it was too low.
If doubled, the new offer would equal about $25,000 per acre.
County Manager Gary Page said a new offer hasnít been formalized, but he and Chad Mitchell, chairman of the board of commissioners, met with Love this week.
ěWe talked about how their offer was … substantially low compared with the tax office value,î Page said. ěWe talked about how they could maybe come up with a proposal that would better meet a majority of the boardís wishes.î
He said that could include lengthening the term of the agreement to keep monthly payments low. The fair association originally proposed paying $25,000 per year for 20 years, which is the same rate it currently pays in rent to the county.
The existing offer also proposed that if the association sells the property while it still owes money to the county, the county will receive all profits from the sale ó minus the associationís annual payments to date and its expenditures on repair and improvements. Itís unclear whether those terms would change.
Mitchell said he thinks the potential new offer of $1 million is ěvery reasonable.î
ěI think the best solution would be if the fair association could somehow get the financing to buy it from us straight-out,î Mitchell said. ěBarring that, I hope we can work out this last offer and make something work out there.î
Love has said the fair association wants to create an air-conditioned event center and new bathrooms on the property, either by renovating the current facilities or building new ones.
The association would like to improve the fairgrounds so it can be used year-round, he said, but it canít afford to spend much more money on buildings without owning the property.
Commissioner Jim Sides said Friday he had not heard of a new offer and didnít think it was appropriate to comment.
Commissioners Carl Ford and Raymond Coltrain did not return phone calls from the Post on Friday evening.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
Twitter: twitter.com/postcopolitics
Facebook: facebook.com/ Karissa.SalisburyPost

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