Council OKs building sale

Published 4:37 pm Friday, August 29, 2014

FILE PHOTO | DAILY NEWS SOLD … AGAIN: During its meeting Monday, Washington’s City Council approved the sale of old City Hall to Rachel Kathleen Midgette.

SOLD … AGAIN: During its meeting Monday, Washington’s City Council approved the sale of old City Hall to Rachel Kathleen Midgette.


After years of trying to find an appropriate reuse of Washington’s old City Hall (also known by some as the De Mille Building) and seeing several proposals for the building come and go without fruition, city officials are hoping a new owner will put the old building to good use.

And that good use will be a bakery. Rachel K’s Bakery plans to locate to the building, which was built in 1884. Its lower floor once housed firefighting apparatus, with city offices on the upper floor.

During its meeting Monday, the City Council approved selling the property to Rachel Kathleen Midgette for $22,000. The sale of the building at 126 N. Market St. was conducted under the upset-bid process. Earlier this year, William Cummings of Chocowinity offered $20,500 for the building. The council then opted to use the upset-bid process to sell the building. It also decided to include a preservation agreement as part of any agreement to sell the building.

The special warranty deed associated with the sale imposes restrictions, including a four-year time limit to rehabilitate the building, on the sale. Another provision allows the city to buy back the building if it needs to do so. Midgette is required to submit an application for a certificate of appropriateness for rehabilitation of the building to the Historic Preservation Commission within six months of the execution of the special warranty deed. Midgette is required to seek a building permit within three months of the COA being issued and begin rehabilitating the building within six months of a building permit for the project being issued.

Laura Darre and Kathryn Pisciotta bought the building from the city for $25,000 in late 2011. They planned to convert the building into a “destination restaurant,” according to city officials. To help them renovate the building, the city agreed to serve as a conduit for $150,000 in grant funding from the N.C. Main Streets Solution Fund. The two women were to provide $300,000 for renovations, according to a city document.

At its Dec. 12, 2011, meeting, the council adopted a resolution in support of seeking grant funding for the project. The Main Street Solutions Fund provides up to $200,000 to local governments for such projects. The Main Street Solutions Fund goals are to provide direct financial benefit to small businesses, retain and create jobs associated with small businesses and spur private investment associated with small businesses. Other than submitting a floor plan for the property, Darre and Pisciotta did not provided any details concerning its renovation, said John Rodman, director of planning and development for the city, in a December 2011 interview. That sale of old City Hall required the approval of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, which was given Dec. 12, 2011, during the board’s meeting.

When the city took sole possession of old City Hall from Beaufort County several years ago, there were some provisions in that takeover agreement concerning any future sale of the building. One of those provisions was that if an offer to buy the building was less than $60,000, the county must give its permission before it could be sold for less than $60,000.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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