If Justin Miller has his way, the old horse barn Raleigh owns downtown will become a restaurant.
Miller, a local entrepreneur, is asking the Raleigh City Council to let him buy or lease a property the city owns at 230 E. Martin St. across from Moore Square. The 817-square-foot building was once used by Raleigh police to equip the department’s horseback unit.
“We’ve got some interesting ideas for that space,” said Miller, who launched El Taco Cartel, a mobile taco stand, with business partners last fall. “Just need to see and hope the city can get behind it.”
Miller formally presented his idea to the council at its meeting Tuesday night. Council members seemed divided on the issue but told him to meet with city staff about the viability of his proposal and check back after they receive a report within the next 60 days.
“I like this idea,” Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said.
The old horse barn is one of several properties the city owns near Moore Square and isn’t sure what to do with. Raleigh acquired the property in 1989, and the building, which dates back to 1915, was used as a gas station.
Wake County appraises the value of the building at about $29,800 and the 0.4-acre site at $226,500, bringing the total property value to about $256,000.
Raleigh plans to spend $12.6 million to renovate Moore Square this year, and plans call for building a pavilion equipped with a café, public restrooms and office space for city parks staff.
Miller’s odds of acquiring the building through a sale or lease are unclear. Raleigh has no specific plans for the property, but the city rarely accepts unsolicited offers for its properties, said John Boyette, a city spokesman.
The city, when selling its properties, typically puts them up for auction to sell to the highest bidder. That’s what it did with the property it owned at 301 Hillsborough St., which fetched an offer of $6 million – nearly double the land’s assessed value.
However, the city could lease to a specific tenant depending on the length and terms of the contract, said Tom McCormick, the city’s attorney.