No bids for school system’s Long Street office

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2016

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — Three months after the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education moved house, its old offices on South Long Street remain empty. And when the school system advertised for sealed bids in late April, Assistant Superintendent Anthony Vann said he didn’t receive any offers.

No minimum bid amount was set for the East Spencer property, and Vann said a “very minuscule bid” could have won.

“Sometimes people don’t bid on the first round for whatever reason,” Vann said.

The building, built in the 1920s, would also need to be brought up to code – which could be an “expensive endeavor” if it contains asbestos or lead paint, he said.

“The building is probably a liability to someone that would be interested in that property,” Van said.

At Monday’s Board of Education work session, Vann said the board had three options for the old office building.

The board could re-advertise for sealed bids, but Vann said he couldn’t recommend that option.

“I’m not sure that would be a positive experience,” he said.

The board could also demolish the building, and put the land up for sale. But demolition could get pricey if asbestos or lead paint is discovered.

“It would be a hard sell,” Vann said at the meeting.

Board member Chuck Hughes asked if anything had been heard from the town of East Spencer, which has expressed interest in the building for years. Vann said he hadn’t received an offer, and thought that the town might be waiting on a possible source of funding.

David Jaynes, East Spencer town administrator, said the town currently has no plans to purchase the former administrative offices.

“The town is not currently interested in owning the property, it’s just interested in leasing the property,” he said.

The town is working with UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative to see what the best use of the old property would be, should they choose to purchase it in the future. However, Jaynes said that the cost of up-fitting the building or maintaining it until they could find a use was not something the town could currently afford.

“The last thing we want is to take on a project. It’s looking good, and then something happens and we have another Dunbar center,” he said.

The town and the school board have been going back and forth for two or three years about the property, but Monday member Dean Hunter said a decision needed to be made quickly because the building was a liability.

The third option would be to negotiate a price with an interested buyer and advertise for upset bids. In an unanimous vote, the board agreed to look for an interested buyer and directed staff to look into demolition and salvage costs.

“We hope there’s someone that’s interested in utilizing that building and that property,” Vann said in an interview, “I know we certainly want to remove it from our books and for it not to become rundown and an eyesore.”

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.