The state has found a buyer for the 146-year-old Heck-Andrews House on North Blount Street in downtown Raleigh.
The N.C. Association of Realtors has agreed to buy the house for $1.5 million. Gov. Pat McCrory announced the sale Thursday, and the Council of State will be asked to give its approval on Tuesday.
The Realtors association’s headquarters is in Greensboro, but it has a Raleigh office on Fayetteville Street.
The sale ends more than 30 years of state ownership of the Second Empire-style mansion. The state acquired half interest in the house in 1984, then bought the remaining share by eminent domain in 1987. The state has spent more than $1.2 million on exterior renovations over the years, but the three-story home anchored by a four-story central tower remains a ruin inside.
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Industrialist Jonathan McGee Heck’s home was completed in 1870 and was among the first mansions that would make North Blount Street the city’s most fashionable in the years between the Civil War and World War I. The Heck family owned the house until 1921, when prominent attorney A.B. Andrews Jr. bought it. By the time Andrews died in 1946, the street’s fortunes were waning, and the new owner turned the mansion into a rooming house.
In the late 1960s, the state saw Blount Street as a place for parking lots for the State Government Complex. As other homes began to disappear along Blount, preservationists fought back, and, among other steps, persuaded the federal government to list the Heck-Andrews House on the National Register of Historic Places.
The McCrory administration had hoped to hang on to Heck-Andrews and restore it so it could be used by state government for special functions. McCrory had sought money for the necessary renovations in a proposed bond issue, but the legislature stripped the house out of the final version.
Meanwhile, preservationists and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, whose office is across the street from Heck-Andrews, had been urging the state to sell the house and others in the Blount Street corridor to preservation-minded buyers. In June, the Heck-Andrews House was among 17 properties that the General Assembly identified as underused and good candidates to sell.
In October, McCrory agreed and announced the house was for sale. State Property Office officials initially did not set a price, saying they would let the market decide. Later, the state’s sale flier for the house listed a price of $1.75 million.
The Realtors association must agree to abide by preservation covenants that will protect exterior and interior features of the house. Those restrictions, combined with the money a motivated buyer will be able to invest in the house, will be key to seeing it fully restored in a way the state was not able to do, said Myrick Howard, president of the statewide advocacy group Preservation North Carolina.
McCrory says the sale of Heck-Andrews is part of Project Phoenix, his larger effort to revitalize state property in Raleigh, and he noted that the state hopes to sell other homes in the Blount Street area. Four state-owned houses on the next block, including two designated as historic properties by the city, now have “For Sale” signs in front of them.
“The sale of the Heck-Andrews House will return this historic home to its original beauty, and this unique architecture will be preserved for generations to come,” McCrory said in a statement. “Bringing the Heck-Andrews House back to life is a perfect example of Project Phoenix’s mission, which is to return underutilized state properties to more productive and efficient use.”