Zebulon rejects offers for vacant town buildings

amoody@newsobserver.comSeptember 22, 2013 

— Commissioners on Wednesday shot down offers made on two of the town’s three downtown surplus buildings.

John Muter, founder and CEO of Muter Construction, said he’s no longer interested in pursuing Zebulon’s former commissioners’ chambers building now that the town board turned down his offer of $20,000. The asking price is $85,000 for the property, located at 109 E. Horton St.

“With a ridiculous offer like we have here, I don’t see why we can’t give (Town Manager) Rick (Hardin) the authority to go ahead and say no,” Commissioner Dale Beck said before making a motion to deny Muter’s offer.

Muter wanted to relocate his company’s headquarters from the east side of Zebulon near the Franklin County line, where he said he has a poor Internet connection.

“It’s a nice building, but what (commissioners) think it’s worth and what the banks will loan you don’t match up,” Muter said of the Horton Street property. “It’s unfortunate is what it is.”

The town board also rejected an offer for Zebulon’s former police headquarters, filed by former town attorney Andy Gay on behalf of a family partnership. Gay’s offer of $25,000 was $10,000 less than the town is asking for the 111 E. Vance St. property.

Town leaders had slashed the asking price of the police station by $207,000 in August at the recommendation of listing real estate agent Scott Hadley.

“I think $35,000 is a rock-bottom price,” Beck said during a discussion on Gay’s offer. “I don’t see negotiating anything under ($35,000).”

There are issues with the 4,846-square-foot building, including asbestos, that would require extensive renovation for it to retain value. Mayor Bob Matheny estimated the land is worth right around the asking price.

“It’s like asking for the money for the land and just giving the building away,” Matheny said.

Gay cited personal reasons for his interest in the former police station. He said he was “intrigued that no one else seemed interested” in the property, despite its condition.

“When I was young, I remember that’s where our Scouts met,” Gay said. “That’s where the county nurse was and that’s where we got our polio shots. So in looking at the building I felt like the investment perhaps could turn into a use, but I don’t have anything that I know as a plan yet.”

Gay still has his sights on the property, even though the town board denied his first offer. He said he is also interested in the former commissioners’ chambers property.

“I’m going to reassess everything and see if I’ve got enough curiosity to keep going,” Gay said.

The two properties, along withthe former town hall at the corner of Arendell Avenue and Vance Street, have been vacant since the 2010 move to the Zebulon Municipal Complex.

The town planned to use money from the sale of the three properties to replenish about $750,000 in reserve funds it used to pay for renovations to the new town hall and police station.

In the event the town accepts an offer on one of the surplus buildings, an upset bid process would be implemented.

Moody: 919-829-4806

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