Former RSS building in East Spencer under contract with potential buyer

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 12, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

EAST SPENCER — After years of attempts to sell and redevelop the former Rowan-Salisbury Schools administration building across from town hall, officials may have a buyer.

Town Administrator Michael Douglas this week told town officials that someone has offered to buy the 4-acre property, located at the town’s center at 110 South Long St. and colloquially known as the 1909 East Spencer building.

Douglas said the first offer of $400,000 was $150,000 less than the town’s asking price. After issuing a counter-offer, the property is now under contract for $450,000, Douglas said.

Douglas said proceeds from the sale would go back into the town’s general fund. The property’s total tax value is $1.09 million.

The property includes two schools, a garage, utility building, athletic field, parking lots and an expansive front lawn. The town acquired the property in 2016, and attempts have been made to redevelop the building since. After acquiring the property, the town used Development Finance Initiative, a firm with the UNC School of Government, to conduct a feasibility study on potential uses for the space. DFI partners with local governments to attract private investments. The city of Salisbury used a feasibility study from DFI earlier this year before making a final decision on a developer for the Empire Hotel redevelopment project and has used the firm for downtown studies in the past.

Among the suggested uses for the space was senior housing or a community gathering site, Mayor Barbara Mallett told the Post. The town partnered with a developer in 2016 to consider senior housing, but that deal never came to fruition. It’s since been used to host town events, with the front lawn being the site of the town’s community garden.

It’s not yet known how the space would be used, but Mallett said anything that helps encourage further development or considers the suggested findings of the study will be a win. She said rezoning the property and nearby area to light industrial could attract further development to the town. If the space was successfully redeveloped into senior housing, for example, Mallett said she’d like to encourage businesses that would support those residents, like a small grocery store or pharmacy.

“We’re glad the work has begun,” Mallett said. “It’s going to be big and great for the city. We hope (the buyer’s) plans will fit.”

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.