RALEIGH — Wake County will not buy the former YWCA property on East Hargett Street under a deal proposed in November, though county commissioners said Monday they would consider making the purchase later under different terms.
The Board of Commissioners had decided it wanted to buy the nearly 3-acre tract and the building the YWCA occupied before failing finances forced it to close abruptly last year. The county had planned to buy the property for $1 million and hold it as a possible site for a future school in an area on the east side of downtown Raleigh where sizable tracts of land are hard to find.
But after the deal was proposed, county and city of Raleigh staff discovered title issues with the land, most notably that a neighboring landowner has built a parking lot that encroaches on one of three lots that make up the YWCA property.
At Monday’s board meeting, Mabry J. “Joe” Desormeaux Jr., assistant superintendent for facilities for Wake County Schools, said the federal bankruptcy court trustee handling the sale on behalf of the YWCA was pushing the county to go ahead and buy the other two lots, and finish the purchase of the third when the encumbrances are worked out. The trustee, Gregory B. Crampton, denied several requests by the county to delay the sale until the title issues could be cleared.
County attorney Scott Warren told the board that because it had voted to buy all three lots for $1 million, county staff could not arrange to buy part of the property at that price or some discounted price without explicit direction from the board.
So Commissioner Tony Gurley moved to scotch the original deal, and after some discussion, the board unanimously voted not to go ahead with the purchase.
Besides the title issues, some board members had earlier said they thought the price for the property was too high, and the site too small for a traditional school.
Gurley said that the school system should continue to negotiate for the property if it wants it, but, “If you do, try to get a better price.”
It’s not clear whether the schools will get that chance. Desormeaux said the seller had other offers for the property – one buyer wanted one lot, another wanted two – when it first came available. Those or other buyers could take the property instead.
If so, Desormeaux said after the meeting, the county would miss out on an opportunity.
“We looked,” he said, “and there is nothing comparable” to the YWCA land downtown.