Building sale could come after county’s master plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 8, 2015

As Rowan County officials search for a solution to a growing space needs problem, the future of two buildings vacated by Social Services remains undecided.

Rowan County on Tuesday received two proposals from realty companies — Locus Real Estate in Concord and R. Giles Moss Auction and Real Estate in Rockwell — seeking to market and sell county-owned property. Locus proposed a commission of 6 percent for any sale. R. Giles Moss proposed a 5 percent commission for any sale over $75,000 and 6 percent for a sale under $75,000.

The county’s request for proposals didn’t mention specific buildings. County Purchasing Agent David Sifford said the terms of the request for proposals could technically include any building owned by the county.

On multiple occasions, however, county commissioners have proposed selling a building on Mahaley Avenue — the former home of Social Services Children’s Division — and one off of West Innes Street — the previous home of Social Services’ Welfare Department. The buildings during a January 20 commissioners meeting were mentioned as properties that could be sold as a part of a real estate agreement.

Both buildings currently sit vacant, with signs in front that say “for sale by owner.” County logos and plaques still mark the front of the buildings. The majority of both buildings are also empty.

During the Jan 20 meeting, Commissioner Craig Pierce said he wanted to liquidate the two properties before either started to deteriorate.

The properties could, however, become future county facilities, according to Board of Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds. Architects evaluating the county’s space needs toured both buildings as part of a master plan that’s scheduled to be presented to commissioners on April 16, Edds said.

“Of course the master plan isn’t just for the West End Plaza,” Edds said. “It’s for all of the needed space. They’ll take into account every county building we have.”

He has repeatedly said county commissioners should wait until they have a master plan for county facilities before making any decisions.

“I think once we have a master plan, everything falls into place,” Edds said. “We’ll know what facilities are part of those plans and which ones aren’t.”

If the county’s contracted architects suggest a sale, it would be the latest in recent attempts to find a use for the county-owned buildings.

In 2013, county officials decided to move the Board of Elections to the Mahaley Avenue building. The department would’ve needed both floors of the two-story building. When commissioners purchased the former Salisbury Mall — West End Plaza — in December 2013, plans changed. Now, the Board of Elections is scheduled to move into the West End Plaza.

The West Innes Street building, built in the 1960s, has also been offered to a branch of the county. Multiple times in recent years, commissioners and school board members have debated the idea of turning the West Innes building into a school central office.

Commissioner Mike Caskey, who served on the Rowan-Salisbury School Board during parts of the discussion, said the building wasn’t functional for a central office. It would’ve also needed a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, Caskey said. Asbestos in the Innes Street building was also a concern, he said.

He said neither would be needed as the county prepares to finalize space for its county departments.

“When the master plan comes out, everyone will see they are probably not needed,” Caskey said about both buildings.

If sold, the pair of buildings could result in a multi-million influx of cash for the county, according to tax documents. The West Innes Street Building, about 30,000 square feet, is assessed at $1.21 million. The Mahaley Avenue building, nearly 7,000 square feet, is assessed at $824,348.

County Assessor Kelvin Byrd said assessed values for pieces of property are intended to match up with a sale price. For exempt or government buildings, Byrd said, less scrutiny is placed on making sure the assessed value is identical to the market price.

“They’re not really a marketed item on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

The proposals submitted Tuesday must be approved by the county commissioners, Sifford said. A sale would likewise have to be approved by county commissioners, he said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246