City trying to save old property|Neglected house subject to $3,500 upset bid process

Published 8:03 pm Friday, January 21, 2011

Contributing Editor

During its meeting Monday, Washington’s City Council is expected to authorize the mayor to sign the necessary documents to sell the property at 507 W. Second St. to Reilly Software for $3,500.
The property, just behind the Tattoo Rich tattoo parlor on Bridge Street, has been the subject of an upset bid process. The property has deteriorated over the years, making it the subject of a debate: demolition versus restoration.
“Council will be presented with a Special Warranty Deed containing certain restrictive and protective covenants as well as a preservation, rehabilitation and maintenance agreement for approval at a future meeting,” reads a memorandum from City Clerk Cynthia Bennett to the mayor and council.
At its Sept. 13, 2010, meeting, the council authorized using the upset bid process to sell the property. An original bid of $1,000 was received from Robin Banks.
“The staff has advertised the sale of the property at $3,500.00 and, after the 10-day cycle was concluded, no one else submitted a legal upset bid. Therefore, the final 10-day period has ended and Reilly Software, LLC is now the highest bidder on the subject property,” reads the memorandum.
At its Aug. 23, 2010, meeting, the council discussed the property while reviewing other properties the city owns.
At that meeting, the city manager told the council that Preservation North Carolina had expressed an interest in helping preserve the house.
The council decided then that the person or entity that obtains the house will acquire it with certain restrictive covenants included in the deed to the property. The council plans to require the new owner to complete certain renovation and/or rehabilitation items regarding the house by specified dates.
“Our ultimate goal for that building is to save it,” Mayor Archie Jennings said then.
The city acquired the property through its demolition-by-neglect ordinance, John Rodman, the city’s director of planning and development, said Thursday. The city notified the property owner the property needed repairs to keep it from further deteriorating. The property owner declined to make the repairs. Again, the city notified the owner that repairs were needed and that the city, under the ordinance, could pay for repairs to the property and place a lien against it to recoup the city’s costs to repair it.
The owner decided it was not worth it to him to repair the property, so he opted to give it to the city, Rodman said.
The demolition-by-neglect ordinance is used by the city to keep historically and/or architecturally significant properties from deteriorating to the point they cannot be saved by rehabilitation measures.
By saving such properties and making sure they are restored, which increases their values, the city stands to take in more property taxes on the rehabilitated properties than it would take in if the properties were not repaired or they were eventually demolished, removing them from the tax rolls.