A four-year saga over a crumbling, vacant downtown Zebulon building has come crashing to an end.
The 960-square foot property at 116 N. Arendell Ave. came under new ownership in April and the new owner, Dayana Christal Nunez Coyt, had the property demolished last Friday. Clean up continued until early last week.
Coyt’s mother, Rosa Samano, who is helping her daughter transform the property, said their current plan is to build a two-story building on the parcel that will house some type of retail store.
“We’d like to put a store there and live on the second floor,” Samano said. “We really don’t know (what kind of store) yet.”
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Samano said there is no hard timeline on reviving the site; that they may begin construction of a new building some time next year. The demolition, she said, was their first step in that process. It was also a move that brought the property into compliance with town and county safety codes it had been in violation of since 2010.
The town was seeking condemnation on the property at the time Coyt purchased it from former owner Wilhelm Marsh for $3,000. The total assessed value of the property is $14,589 according to the real estate records.
Marsh, who was largely elusive to town and county officials since the old building was first deemed unsafe, was facing a May 16 deadline to fix issues with the building or have the town take on that authority.
The building had boarded-up doors windows, loose brickwork, debris and trash accumulated inside. It also had freestanding walls with no roof, which led to stagnant water and the potential for health issues.
By January of this year, town leaders gave Marsh three corrective options for the property: demolition, making the building more safe by bracing the exterior wall, or repair – which may have called for a new roof, doors and windows.
Coyt inherited those options when she bought the place and the deadline for corrective action reset. She first met with town leaders after she bought the property and had corrective plans in place soon after.
Demolition was an option plenty in town had hoped to avoid for a mixture of appearance and historical reasons. The 1910 building was the former site of City Barbershop and was one of the first two brick buildings in Zebulon, according to local historian Dr. Jerry Cross.
“This would leave another hole in the downtown landscape ... ,” Ramona Davis, president of the Zebulon Beatification Committee, told the town board in October 2013. “We are only asking you to do something constructive, but not to tear down something that cannot be replaced.”
Town leaders seemed to want to preserve the piece of Zebulon’s history, but noted more than once the decision remained with property owner until condemnation was obtained.