07/25/08 — Borden Loft project bill now tabled

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Borden Loft project bill now tabled

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on July 25, 2008 1:58 PM

With the state legislative session coming to a close last week, a local bill that would alleviate a right-of-way problem involving the North Carolina Railroad Co. -- and allow the progress of the renovation of the old Borden Manufacturing Co. into a luxury apartment complex to move forward -- wasn't passed and might not see the next session either.

Rep. Louis Pate Jr., R-Wayne, said that since the bill was introduced, the parties have been trying to find an agreeable solution without the need for legislation.

"I think everything can be worked out to the satisfaction of everyone without the bill. That's my advice anyhow," he said. "A bill has the force of law. It was designed to get the parties to the table, and now they're at the table, so it's not necessary."

The historic brick manufacturing buildings are encroaching onto a 200-foot right-of-way granted to the North Carolina Railroad Co., giving the railroad the authority to say what can be done on that portion of the property.

The bill met initial approval by a House committee but went no further.

If it had become law, the bill would have directed the railroad to transfer mill building encroachments for use in the historic mill rehabilitation project and would prohibit the railroad from removing or demolishing any of the historic mill building that encroaches on its right-of-way.

Borden Loft project developer Tom Webb said in a previous interview that even though the Borden Manufacturing Co. building is on the National Register of Historic Places and was built in the late 1800s, the railroad's charter granting a 200-foot right-of-way pre-dated the construction.

"We have tried to negotiate a permanent easement with the North Carolina Railroad, but were only offered a temporary license that could require the removal of the parts of the buildings that are located in their charter," he has said. "The inability to acquire clear title to the property and the threat to the historic buildings for demolition, which would result in the loss of both federal and state tax credits, forced us to stop all future work on this project until the problem with the railroad is corrected."

Pate was in support of the bill and the project in the beginning.

"It's a big financial gain for the community. We just need to have the cooperation of the railroad," Pate has said.

The project has still been set back. When the project was first announced, officials were optimistic that construction could begin in March, and lofts would be ready to move into by December. Now, they aren't sure when construction will begin.

"We have lost the momentum that we had build up over the past year, and it will take some time to start our marketing and development efforts again," Webb said.