The owner of a recently demolished grocery store building has an offer for the Town of Clayton.
Katie Smith, who owned the former Red & White building on West Front Street, says she will give Clayton the land where the store stood if the town will forgive the demolition bill that now looms over her estate.
The town condemned the rundown building in 2012 and, after a long back and forth with Smith, razed the building in March. The price of the demolition, about $38,000, is now a lien against the property.
Smith, a Sneads Ferry resident, sent the town her offer on May 1 through her attorneys. The town is considering the offer but wants to first see who else is interested.
Town Manager Steve Biggs said private developers have already inquired about the land. If a third party were to buy the property, Biggs said, Smith could pay the town the debt she owes and a vacant lot would have new hope for development.
“That is our preference rather than receiving the property,” Biggs said.
The Town Council agreed on Monday to not collect the $38,000 from Smith for 90 days. The hope is that a person or company will buy the land during that time.
If nothing happens after 90 days, the town will reconsider Smith’s offer, Biggs said.
The 0.13-acre lot sits on the corner of West Front and O’Neil streets near downtown Clayton. This is the first time the land has been vacant for more than a century, as photos dating as far back as 1909 show structures on the property.
The former Red & White building had been vacant for more than 10 years.
Smith didn’t own the building during the time it became unsafe. In 2006, she sold it to Robert and Patricia Bryant, but Robert Bryant said health problems kept him from properly maintaining the property.
Facing foreclosure, the Bryants deeded the property back to Smith, the lien holder, in November 2012. The transaction occurred days after Clayton building inspectors gave the Bryants 60 days to fix the property or have it torn down.
The Clayton Town Council gave Smith a reprieve, hoping an investor would step forward to restore the building. Clayton resident Randy Messick showed interest in the building, applied for a work permit, painted the storefront and lined up engineers. But when council members wanted proof of financial backing and renovation plans, Messick provided neither.
In February 2014, the Town Council voted to raze the building.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104