Retail space planned
Plans to build businesses across from Haw River’s Granite Mill, which is being renovated into loft apartments, were revealed earlier this month when the town agreed to sell some of its vacant property to the project’s developer.
The town and developer Mike Hill signed off on two written agreements in December 2017 and May 2018, prior to the start of the Granite Mill project, to eventually sell 0.8 acres of land along East Main Street next to Haw River Flooring, about half of which is now a narrow gravel lot used for parking. The remaining area is wooded and slopes downward sharply, town manager Sean Tencer told the council during its March 1 meeting.
Still, it wasn’t until the town council’s meeting this month that Hill’s tentative plans to build eateries – Tencer said that Hill was considering an ice cream or soda shop – were made public.
The sale of land to a developer without putting properties up for bid isn’t common, though Tencer explained that a state statute allowed the town to reserve its four conjoined lots for the developer so long as the properties would be used for “economic development” purposes.
“Usually, in North Carolina law, if a public entity such as a town sells property, we have to have a bidding process where people put in bids to buy the property,” he told the council. “But under general statutes, we do not have to do that if it’s going to be used for economic development for a downtown purpose. Since we consider that our downtown, it falls into that category.”
Tencer said that the appraised value, and sale price, of the four properties is $27,000. At the suggestion of the town manager, mayor Kelly Allen and town attorney Charlie Davis both advised the council to approve a deadline of June 30, 2021 for Hill to purchase the land.
Following a motion by councilman Steve Lineberry to sell the land and create the deadline, the council gave its unanimous approval.
As of Monday, town staff said that Hill had not yet purchased the properties.
See also the newspaper’s editorial page opinion on the no-bid procedure used by the town: https://alamancenews.com/sunshine-week-local-governments-need-a-lot-of-coverage-and-public-oversight/