Quick Start II up for debate

Published 9:05 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Some Beaufort County leaders believe it may be time to sell Quick Start II, an industrial building intended to attract an industry to the county, on the open market after it has sat vacant for about four years. (WDN Photo/Betty Mitchell Gray)

Board discusses future of Industrial Park spec building

With repair costs rising and no buyer to date for an industrial property built to attract an industry to the county, some county leaders believe it may be time to sell the building on the open market.

But other members of the panel said with at least three potential buyers showing interest in the property, the county’s Economic Development Commission should be given more time to find a buyer that will bring jobs to the county.

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners turned back, by a vote of 4-3, a proposal by Commissioner Hood Richardson to advertise the county’s Quick Start II building at the Washington Industrial Park on the open market.

Commissioners Ed Booth, Stan Deatherage and Richardson supported the motion.

The panel agreed to study the idea and determine if it could be sold by area real-estate agents with provisions of job creation attached to the sale.

“This thing has been sitting there for four years, and nobody wants it,” Richardson said at the commissioners meeting earlier this week. “That’s why I want to list it.”

“The county has $2.4 million tied up in this,” he said. “And it’s been sitting there for four years at 5-percent interest.”

Commissioner Al Klemm told the panel that with three prospective buyers considering the building, he opposed selling it on the open market without some stipulation that job creation be attached to the sale.

Board Chairman Jerry Langley agreed.

“I’d like to see some jobs attached to it,” Langley said.

After the vote, the commissioners agreed to study the prospect of selling the building on the open market with the stipulation of some job creation attached to the sale.

Meanwhile, the board learned this week that installing a needed drainage system and other repairs to the roof would probably cost more than originally expected.

Earlier this year, Kelli Wilcox, principal engineer with Atlas Engineering of Raleigh, recommended to the commissioners a series of repairs to the roof that included the installation of an emergency drainage system for the roof to bring the structure up to local building code requirements, repairs on all of the “minor distresses” on the roof and the incorporation of a routine maintenance program that would include a visual inspection of the roof at least twice a year.

At the time, Wilcox estimated the cost of the roofing repairs between $7,500 and $15,000.

Since then, estimates for installing the system have climbed to $17,172 and the costs of repairing the ‘minor distresses” are estimated at $4,500, according to Jim Spain, the county’s maintenance supervisor.

However, Spain said, A.R. Chesson Construction Co., the northeastern North Carolina firm contracted to build the structure, has agreed to pay half of the roof-repair costs.

In addition to the roof repairs, Spain said, he has been working with engineering consultants to repair leaks in the grout along the building’s side panels.

After recent rains revealed continued leaks along the panels, Spain recommended the application of a polymer coating along the grout lines to stop the leaks.

He said this coating would need to continue to be applied as part of the county’s routine maintenance of the building.

“As long as the county has this building, we’re going to have to look after it until we sell it,” Spain said.

“We hope that’s real soon,” Langley responded.

Quick Start II was completed in early 2008, at a cost of about $2.4 million, at the Beaufort County Industrial Park off Leggett Road just west of Washington.

Since then, the building has developed the problems that were made public earlier this year.

Beaufort County contributed $879,000 toward its construction and obtained $982,000 and $400,000 in two loans from the N.C. Department of Commerce to fund most of the remaining costs of the building.

The commissioners are scheduled to hear a report at 6 p.m. Monday from Beaufort County Economic Development Director Tom Thompson on the activities of the county’s Economic Development Commission.