Builders interested in Spencer-owned residential properties

Published 12:01 am Friday, July 23, 2021

SPENCER – Several pieces of land owned by the town of Spencer have drawn attention from developers recently.

Last week, the Board of Aldermen approved moving forward with the upset bid process for one piece of property at 608 S. Carolina Ave. based on an $8,250 offer from Roseman Real Estate and Construction. The local builder submitted offers on four pieces of property while declining to consider another property for sale. The property used to have a two-story home on it, but it was demolished.

During the board’s meeting on June 13, the town received an offer for the purchase of a town-owned property at 308 Cain St. from someone who is not local to Rowan County. The board requested more information from the buyer, but the Rosemans submitted an offer on the same property in July, which was then used as the basis to begin an upset bid process.

The Rosemans also made offers on 108 and 110 Seventh St., which the board rejected. The properties are both located behind the current town hall and the Rosemans bid $6,000 on each. The board has refused previous offers on the parcels because they are adjacent to the town hall and, pending the town’s move to its new facility in Park Plaza, the old town hall property would be more desirable when combined with those lots.

The Rosemans recently built other infill residential homes in Spencer as well.

The town currently owns more than a dozen vacant lots. Of those, several can’t be developed because of problems with their locations, whether they are in the flood plane or abutting railway. A few others, including large lots connecting to Stanback Educational Forest, are being used by the town.

The remaining lots are in residential areas and some match the size of nearby parcels that already have homes on them.

Town Projects Planner Joe Morris said when Spencer was incorporated, it was laid out to provide housing for rail workers. The town, named after railway pioneer Samuel Spencer, is replete with 140-by-50-foot lots intended to host small homes and yards with alley access. The Seventh Street properties are both that size.

Town Manager Peter Franzese said it is typical for towns to own smatterings of property within its limit, acquired through purchase condemnation or a handful of other means.

Morris said in some cases a family may die out and a municipality would step in. And in other cases, a tax foreclosure may result in partial ownership by the town and county. In those cases, getting a home built and the property back on the market is a benefit to the town because it can generate tax revenue.

Morris said there is a small boom in residential development in Spencer, noting the current state of the housing market favoring developers building infill homes and being able to sell them before construction has finished.

He also credited recent leadership in the town for focusing on quality services and propelling projects forward. The town is taking on expansion at Stanback Educational Forest, the high-profile revitalization of Park Plaza for the new town hall and a recent burst of funding for developing a trailhead on the Rowan County side of Wil-Cox Bridge.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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