Upset bids continue to pour in for Zebulon’s former police station

amoody@newsobserver.comJanuary 16, 2014 

— A local businessman on Monday added some weight to his side of a tug of war over Zebulon’s former police headquarters.

John Muter entered a bid of $58,000 for the 111 E. Vance St. property, upsetting the offer of $51,000 made by local attorney Andy Gay on Dec. 30.

Muter’s nearly 14 percent increase easily marked the largest spike of the eight upset bids submitted since October. His bid is $23,000 more than Zebulon’s minimum asking price.

“It’s just dragging on so long, that’s what I’m doing is trying to speed it up,” Muter said of the bidding process. “We need an office and we’re trying to get settled down there and go to work.”

Muter wants to relocate his construction company’s office from the east side of Zebulon near the Franklin County line – where he said he has a poor Internet connection.

Prospective buyers have 10 business days from the time of the last acceptance to enter a bid that’s 5 percent more than the current offer on the property. If the town approves a higher bid, the cycle restarts.

The new deadline to submit an upset bid is Jan. 27 at 4 p.m. The minimum bid must be $60,950. If no new bids are received by that time, Muter’s current bid will go before Zebulon commissioners for approval.

Gay and Muter are two of the three parties that have combined for 10 bids on the property since September.

The town board rejected an initial bid of $25,000 made by Gay, who has cited personal reasons for his interest in the old police station.

The first accepted bid of $35,001 was entered by Brandon and Amanda LaRoque of Raleigh on Oct. 3. The LaRoques countered an Oct. 21 offer by Muter ($37,000) with a bid of $40,001 on Nov. 1.

Ever since, the process has become a back-and-forth auction between Gay and Muter. Each has filed three upset bids since Nov. 18.

Town officials say the 4,846-square-foot building will require significant renovations, including asbestos removal. Commissioners at one point considered demolishing the building.

“If I wasn’t in construction, I’d probably be getting nervous about it,” Muter said, referring to the point the bids have reached versus the cost of renovations. “It gets to be a pretty expensive proposition for somebody that’s not in construction.”

Town Manager Rick Hardin noted the current bid is still only a fraction of what Zebulon had once hoped to get for the property. But he said the competitive sale of the building is nothing but good for the town.

“We were always hopeful – we felt like the price would come up, but we didn’t really know how high,” Hardin said. “Originally we had hoped for more than this, so it’s not like we’re elated over it, but we are pleased to see the prices increase since we started the process.”

The property was unsuccessfully listed at $242,000 after town staff moved to the Zebulon Municipal Complex in 2010 until August of last year.

That’s when town leaders took the advice of a listing agent to slash the asking price all the way down to $35,000.

The town planned to use money from the sale of the former police station, and two other downtown properties that were vacated in the move, to replenish about $750,000 in reserve funds it used to pay for renovations to the new town hall and police station.

Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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