Town officials are considering buying several downtown properties on the same block, although it hasn’t been determined what the town would do with the land.
The Board of Commissioners voted Feb. 21 to extend an existing agreement with the owners of a shuttered carpet store – next to the police station on North Main Street – to give the town more time to consider it together with new agreements approved that night.
When the town originally entered that agreement in June of last year, Mayor pro tem Blake Massengill said the town should consider using the property to expand the police station, which Town Manager Adam Mitchell said is at its full working capacity.
The other properties under consideration are on the same block but on the other side, fronting Fuquay Avenue and Academy Street. One is a portion of a large warehouse complex owned by Bob Barker Co. The other is mostly empty lots.
The town has about a year to decide whether it wants to purchase any of them.
The Feb. 21 vote committed the town to a total of $16,000 in “earnest money” to enter the purchase agreements, which the town will recoup in an equivalent discount if it eventually purchases the properties. By entering the agreement, the town also locks in the properties’ purchase price, which totals $1.15 million between the three agreements.
Mitchell said the 12-month evaluation period is meant to give the town time to examine the properties and their viability for a variety of potential uses. He said expanding the police station is a priority, but also said that town leaders discussed at a recent retreat the need to build more office space for the town’s employees in the near future.
Fuquay-Varina economic development officials also have shown interest in pursuing coworking space close to downtown, similar to what Holly Springs and Cary have done with downtown properties.
The next year will include continuing conversations with the UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative, a downtown planning and revitalization consultancy Fuquay-Varina is working with as it attempts to draw people and businesses to its downtown districts. DFI’s consultants tend to counsel towns to make visible public investments in downtown property and amenities to convince private investors that their projects will be well-supported by the town.
“We’ve shared with them our interest in seeing new private investment into our downtowns plural, although in this case, the Fuquay district,” Mitchell said. “We believe that in order to be able to do that and best position ourselves for addressing our needs that we need to have enough land area to do a future project.”
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan