Mount Airy government officials are proposing to fork out up to $325,000 for land on Franklin Street to aid development in that area.
But first, citizens must be heard on the matter during a public hearing that the city commissioners voted Thursday night to schedule during their next meeting on Sept. 21 at 6 p.m.
The property being eyed is located at 412 Franklin St., situated toward the end of that street near North South Street. The owners are listed as David Andrew Cooper and Donna Marie Young of the same address.
It also is in close proximity to the Spencer’s redevelopment area, which is the reason for the interest by the city government. It bought the former textile mill complex in 2014 and has pursued various new uses for that site since.
The city’s focus on the Franklin Street lot had been under wraps until announced by Mayor Jon Cawley during a Mount Airy Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday night.
It was discussed by city officials during a specially called session on Aug. 29, held behind closed doors because of property acquisition being involved, which the mayor presided over via speaker phone due to being out of town.
“This is a property we have been trying to purchase,” Cawley told the audience Thursday night, adding that it would “help stimulate” and stabilize the ongoing Spencer’s redevelopment project.
If the acquisition goes through, pending the public hearing, the money for it will come from a $2 million grant awarded to Mount Airy in July 2022 by the state government to support various further improvements in the Spencer’s area.
Officials have said this Phase 3 portion of the Spencer’s redevelopment includes a proposed Mount Airy-Surry County Visitor Center and Conference Center in buildings commonly referred to as The Cube and the Cube Annex.
Due to its closeness to those facilities, officials sought to buy the land at 412 Franklin St.
Cawley credited City Attorney Hugh Campbell Thursday night for negotiating the proposed acquisition of the property. It now contains a house and amounts to less than an acre that is surrounded by municipal-owned sites on three sides.
Campbell acknowledged after Thursday night’s meeting that the proposed purchase price of up to $325,000 greatly exceeds the tax value of the property, listed as $100,730.
However, he believes it stands to increase in value.
Campbell said this occurred with another site on Franklin Street the commissioners voted to buy in November of last year, which similar to the deal at hand occurred to aid further economic development of the former Spencer’s industrial complex.
That property at 314 Franklin St., also including a structure, was obtained at a price of $300,000, using money from the $2 million state grant.
It now is valued at $350,000 on tax records, which the city attorney said resulted from a county property revaluation that caused the worth to increase.
And Campbell expects the latest site eyed at 412 Franklin St. to appreciate in value over time.