North Carolina’s Council of State will wait and ask more questions before deciding whether to sell two state-owned pieces of land on the northern end of downtown Raleigh.
A group of developers has offered $4.85 million for a roughly 1.8-acre site on West Peace Street across from Seaboard Station that currently houses the state’s Personnel Training Center, and another group offered $1.75 million for the .36-acre site of an old steam plant on North Dawson Street near the Days Inn Hotel.
The council is made up of the 10 top statewide-elected officials, led by the governor. Gov. Pat McCrory was vocal in criticizing both Raleigh parcels at Tuesday’s council meeting. He called the training center “a piece of crap building.”
“That piece of land is the biggest damn eyesore,” McCrory said.
The 10-member council was missing one of its members, Attorney General Roy Cooper. On Monday, McCrory conceded the election to Cooper, whose margin of victory stood at about 0.2 percent of votes cast.
In recent days, a small group of preservationists had asked the council to turn down the sale of the Dawson Street site, because it occupies a corner of one Caswell Square, of the five squares included the original 1792 plan for Raleigh. They’d like the state to consider ways to restore at least part of Caswell Square as a public park.
Caswell Square Medical had planned to buy the three vacant state-owned buildings, and restore two of them for use as medical offices.
McCrory was critical of the old steam plant, which has sat abandoned for more than two decades, calling it an embarrassment that many people don’t notice as they drive by.
“It’s a blur to most people now,” McCrory said. “You don’t even notice how crappy it looks, and to me it’s unacceptable.”
But several other council members expressed concern about breaking up the historically significant land.
“Once you take this away, there’s no getting it back,” said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin.
The sales are part of McCrory’s Project Phoenix plan, which was announced in 2014 and aims to sell some state-owned properties in and around downtown for new uses. It’s now unclear when the two properties will come back before the council, said John LaPenta, the deputy secretary of the state Department of Administration.
LaPenta said after hearing the council’s discussion that he thinks members are not against the proposed sale. Instead, he said, they just didn’t have enough information, and he will work to answer their questions.
“Over the next couple of weeks, or whatever time it takes, we will enumerate our plan and why we think it’s important for both the state, the city and the county,” LaPenta said.
Also Tuesday, the board approved a $6 million bid to sell a 49-acre site that housed the former Charlotte Correctional Facility.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi