After years in disrepair under state ownership, five historic houses on North Person Street near downtown Raleigh will now get restored under new owners.
The Council of State, chaired by Gov. Pat McCrory, voted Tuesday to accept bids on five of the six houses it put on the market this summer. The winning bids ranged from $245,000 for the 2,200-square foot Worth House, built in 1904, to $536,000 for the 3,300-square-foot Lamar House, built in 1896.
The sale comes with strings attached: Buyers will face historic preservation covenants designed to prevent major alterations or demolitions. Matthew Brown, a longtime resident of the adjacent Oakwood neighborhood, said he’s happy to follow the covenants with his purchase of the Lamar House.
Brown’s new home has been vacant and slowly deteriorating at the corner of North Person and North streets since the state bought it in 1999. He said he expects renovations will take two years.
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“My plans are to restore it meticulously and live in it,” he said Tuesday. “I find it thrilling, to be honest. The worse shape a house is in, the more important that it’s in the hands of someone who will bring it back to its proper state of renovation.”
The nonprofit Preservation North Carolina has been pushing state leaders to sell the houses for more than a decade. Legislators passed a bill in 2003 calling for the sale, but the private developer the state picked to buy the properties wasn’t able to complete the project amid the recession.
“The legislature leaned heavily on the State Property Office” to find new buyers this year, said Myrick Howard, president of the preservation group. “We are thrilled to see this actually coming about almost 15 years later. We think that they will be much better cared for.”
The homes’ vacant state creates what Howard calls a “doughnut hole” between downtown, Oakwood and the booming North Person Street business district.
“You’re going to have a really fascinating neighborhood that’s going to blend right into Oakwood,” Howard said.
More historic houses in the surrounding blocks will join the real estate market soon. McCrory’s administration announced in October that it will sell the 145-year-old Heck-Andrews House on North Blount Street and the Bailey-Tucker House on Lane Street.
A legislative study earlier this year found that the state could get an estimated $14.3 million in revenue from selling “unneeded” real estate in Raleigh and elsewhere in the state.
Bids came in above the original asking prices on several of the North Person Street houses, which were listed between $255,000 and $435,000. The state received a total of 16 offers, but two of the houses had only one bidder.
A sixth home, the 1910 Cambridge House at 407 N. Person St., hasn’t attracted a buyer yet and is still for sale, according to Department of Administration spokesman Chris Mears.
Buying property from the state is a complicated process, and the Council of State vote Tuesday isn’t the final hurdle. The sales must still go before the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, a group of legislators that meets between sessions.
Historic homes find buyers
Lamar House: Built in 1896 at 401 N. Person St., it has been vacant and neglected since the state bought it in 1999. $536,000 to Matthew Brown
Ashley House: Built in 1903 at 215 E. North St., it housed the state Division of Air Quality until last year. $500,500 to TLC FRANCIS LCC, a corporation registered to attorney Charles Francis
Watson House: Built in 1910 on N. Wilmington Street, it was moved to 411 N. Person St. in 2008. $291,600 to Thomas and Judith Porter
Worth House: Built in 1936 on East Peace Street, it was moved to 415 N. Person Street in 2008. $245,100 to Darcia Black
Gay House: Built in 1926 on East Peace Street, it was moved to 419 N. Person Street in 2008. $275,000 to Kimberly and Robert Wagner