04/14/13 — Bids in for demolition of former arts council

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Bids in for demolition of former arts council

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on April 14, 2013 1:50 AM

The bidding has closed for the proposed demolition of the former Arts Council of Wayne County headquarters. Now it is up to the City Council to decide whether to proceed with the project, or try and sell the lot with the building still on it.

A decision is expected at Monday's meeting, which will begin with a work session at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Annex, with the formal meeting starting at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

Seven bids were submitted for the project, ranging from $184,900 to $248,000, considerably less than the $310,000 estimate that was given before bidding took place. A-K Grading & Demolition Inc. of LaGrange was the lowest bidder.

The city bought the property from the arts council in July 2011 for $500,000 when the group moved to its current location on North John Street.

The most recent appraisal of the property valued it at $455,000 with the building and $518,000 without the building.

If the city sold the property as is for the appraised value, it would lose $45,000 on the deal. But that is still a smaller hit than they will likely take if they demolish the building and sell the property.

If the city awarded the contract to the lowest bidder to demolish the building and sold the property at the appraised value of $518,000 the city would swallow a deficit of $166,900, in addition to the $163,500 spent on consulting and planning over a seven-month period for the proposed Air Force museum -- an idea that was scrapped earlier this year.

The purchase cost of the building, in addition to consulting fees and the $3,000 purchase of the option to buy the two adjacent properties, has cost the city $666,500 to date.

The City Council will discuss whether or not they think it makes more sense to try to sell the property as is with the building intact or demolish the structure to make the property more attractive to buyers.

"If I could guarantee we could tear it down and sell it in a month I would want to tear it down, but if we could sell it in six months as is, I would probably want to do that instead," said City Manager Scott Stevens.

The building is not occupied and it is not actively costing the city anything for the property to sit unused, he noted.

The bid prices cover the demolition of the old bank building and the adjacent fountain, but do not include the parking lot or the silo next to the building.

Stevens believes the property will be much more attractive to potential buyers without the building, though, largely because of the mold situation in the building due to a moisture problem.

He says that they are not even supposed to enter the structure without protective face masks to filter the mold spores out of the air.

The city's $3,000 option to buy two adjacent properties at a cost of $223,000 ran out in March. That would have raised the value of the properties to $592,000 with the two buildings or $604,000 without the buildings.

The owner of the property is willing to extend the option, but Stevens does not see that as a likely possibility.

It will be up for discussion at the City Council meeting Monday.

In other business, the council will also discuss what to do with the Parks and Recreation grant funds that were received in the amount of $40,000 for various community improvement plans.

In addition to the grant funds, the council will discuss the Praxis Film Festival and the purchase of a pickup truck for the fire department during its work session.

Other items for business include:

* The possibility of designating parts of Goldsboro as North Carolina Urban Progress Zones, which provides tax incentives for job creation, investment in business property and investment in real property. Under the proposed boundaries in the downtown area and industrial park, approximately 11 percent of town would be in a progress zone.

* The continued efforts to acquire properties for the Berkeley Boulevard widening project to add a southbound lane on the west side of Berkeley Boulevard between Royall Avenue and South Drive.

Offers for the parcels of land were made in August of 2012 and 12 resolutions were made at the March 18 City Council meeting to condemn remaining parcels of land where owners did not accept offers.

The City Council will discuss the adoption of a 13th resolution for the owner of a parcel of land in front of Staples and Books-A-Million who has verbally accepted the city's offer of $20,750 for the property, but has so far not accepted in writing.

* The two bids that are in for the 2013 Bituminous Concrete Resurfacing Project from Barnhill Contracting Company for $404,155.81 and S.T. Wooten Corporation for $532,337.50.

* Another temporary fix on the Corps of Engineers Flood Control Structure. The city is recommending a new sheet pile wall be constructed next to the old wall at a cost of $40,700 and is deciding whether to authorize Schnabel Engineering to design the wall.

* The purchase of two new blowers to replace a 21-year-old one that seized up and destroyed itself two days before bidding to replace was to open.

The low bidder, T.A. Loving Company offered the first blower and installation for $266,000.