Clayton News-Star

Clayton’s old town hall on the market

In declaring the old town hall surplus, Clayton will try to sell the property for a redevelopment project.
In declaring the old town hall surplus, Clayton will try to sell the property for a redevelopment project.

Clayton’s other town hall is up for sale.

The Town Council last week declared as surplus the old town hall on the corner of Second and Barbour streets, the first step toward putting a “For Sale” sign out front and inviting in redevelopment.

Town Manager Steve Biggs brought the idea to the council, saying he had heard from several parties interested in redeveloping the building.

What’s known as the annex building has sat vacant for the past four years, when its last tenant, a state probation and parole office, moved across the street to the police station.

Biggs said tagging the building as surplus doesn’t mean the town has to sell it. But it can’t shop the building without declaring it surplus, he said.

“This is an necessary step in order for the town to invite, and receive for review, bids for purchase,” Biggs said.

These days, the old town hall is known best as the building with the elevator lift that looks like a telephone booth. Clayton last considered what to do with the old town hall more than a decade ago, when the council mulled and eventually abandoned plans to turn the building into a district courthouse, similar to the one in Benson. In 2005 dollars, that renovation would have cost $2.5 million to $2.7 million, which, adjusted for inflation, would run more than $3 million today. Johnston County property records value the building at $842,070.

At the time, town leaders saw the courtroom idea as a time saver for Clayton police officers, who, with a courtroom across the street, wouldn’t have to wait all day for hearings in Smithfield. In the 1980s, the General Assembly approved district courthouses for Selma, Benson and Clayton; Selma and Benson opened courtrooms, while Clayton did not. Along with a courtroom, Biggs said redevelopment of the 7,644-square-foot building would have included offices and community space.

In selling the former town hall, Biggs said, Clayton will structure the contract in a way that gives the town some say in how the building is redeveloped.

“We would enter into a development agreement with the buyer so we would have a good sense of how the property would be used and in what time frame it would be improved,” he said.

Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson