Commissioners vote to sell spec building

Published 6:37 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted 6-1 to tentatively approve the sale of Quick Start II to an undisclosed buyer for $1,050,000. (WDN File Photo/Betty Mitchel Gray)

Four years after its construction and after spending thousands of dollars on repairs, a building that was intended to attract a new industry to Beaufort County is apparently off the market.
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted 6-1 to tentatively approve the sale of Quick Start II to an undisclosed buyer for $1,050,000. Commissioner Ed Booth cast the sole dissenting vote.
Saying the sale of the building is contingent upon the county advertising for other bidders, the commissioners declined to disclose the buyer. But they said they would do so after they received written notification of the offer and the 10-day time period for other bidders to come forward had expired.
In an interview after the meeting, Commissioner Jay McRoy characterized the buyer as “a new company” that “will not be a competitor to any other business we have in Beaufort County.”
“Because of the nature of what they want to do in this building, they don’t want it disclosed at this time,” he said.
The sale is contingent upon the buyer installing natural gas lines to the building and the creation of 35 new jobs at the site within 18 months, according to the vote of the board.
The commissioners also stipulated in their vote that the new jobs could not be the result of a loss of jobs elsewhere in the county and that the buyer of the building could not expect any grant or matching funds from the county.
McRoy said that although the sales price is less than the commissioners had hoped to get for the building, the value of the natural gas line, that could be available to other industries inside the park, made the deal more appealing to the board.
“Natural gas is a big deal for me,” he said. “Obviously, we’d like to get more for the building but we needed to take into consideration the economy at this time.”
The vote to sell the building comes about one week after the commissioners reportedly considered an offer on the building but instead voted to list the property in an open listing with all the county’s real estate agents.
One Internet-based report indicated the offer considered last week came from Flanders Filters executives.
Built at a cost of about $2.4 million, Quick Start II was completed in early 2008 at the Beaufort County Industrial Park off of Leggett Road just west of Washington.
Beaufort County contributed $879,000 towards 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 loans were part of a revolving loan fund at the department and the county has since negotiated an extension on the terms of the loan with the final payoff for both – including a balloon payment on the $400,000 loan – set for 2015.
While the first industrial shell building on the property, Quick Start I, sold within about 18 months of breaking ground for the structure, Quick Start II, completed just before the downturn in the economy, had not found a buyer until this week.
One Fortune 500 company was reported to be looking at the building while it was being built.
A committee determined the corporation was serious enough about buying the building that it decided to paint the building with that company’s colors – blue and white stripes – in the hopes that might seal the deal.
It didn’t and after that, the building developed the problems that were made public last year, resulting in thousands of dollars in repair costs. Discussion about those repairs led some in the community to begin to question the effectiveness of economic development activities in the county.