After months of back and forth, county supervisors have voted to purchase the Moore Building.
The historic Main Street property currently houses the tourism and economic development department, the visitor center and the Literacy Council of Madison County. Space is also used in the building for a variety of meetings by organizations and county committees including the Madison Chamber of Commerce and Madison County Planning Commission Subcommittees. The 6,200 square foot building is currently leased by the county, which actually used to own it, and space is subleased to the literacy council. The lease ends Dec. 31, 2019.
Current owner Kenneth Moore purchased the building from the county in 2001 for $25,000. According to supervisors it was in terrible shape and has since been renovated by Moore. It has been rented to the county for $1,408.38 per month with an option to purchase.
The purchase has been a long standing discussion among supervisors with two public hearings held on the matter. During the most recent hearing, held earlier this month, those involved in the local tourism industry supported the purchase.
“I believe we do need the real estate,” realtor Kevin McHaney said. “The county itself is in much better shape if it’s paying for its own buildings [instead of] paying someone else. With tourism, we don’t want to be willy nilly about moving it. It brings people in for businesses.”
Early Mountain Director of Marketing Aileen Sevier agreed.
“Tourism is so critical,” she said. She said having the visitor center, which is certified, keeps local information circulating and is easily accessible.
On the opposing side were those who questioned the building’s structural integrity. Past inspections uncovered various issues including slight roof repair needs, rotted window sills, sidewalk cracks, cracked windows, and a hot water extension pipe in need of replacement. Many of those items have already been fixed by Moore. The building also has mold and some structural issues with a structural engineer report suggesting a replacement of the east wall of the building, repointing and sealing the west and south walls and replacing half of the floor and roof framing.
Also opposing the purchase was supervisor Charlotte Hoffman. She stated the county doesn’t need any more real estate and that the building is in a deplorable condition. She suggested moving the offices currently housed in the Moore Building down Main Street to the Arcade. That space is currently leased by the Madison County Historical Society and is also used by various community groups and the Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services Board to provide services.
“If we’re not going to use the Arcade, then sell that,” Hoffman said. “We have a $5-6 million radio project, [the Madison Primary School] renovation project. The county doesn’t need to burden itself in real estate we don’t need.”
Hoffman stood firm in her opinion during last week’s vote on the issue and she’s not the only one to have mentioned the county’s excess of real estate. Several speakers during both public hearings stated that the county’s Thrift Road property should be sold. Plans are in the works to consolidate county offices, something that has also been a longstanding conversation not just among the current board, but among previous boards for decades.
“I’m not anxious to take on more property, but I like having someone present in that building,” supervisor Kevin McGhee said of the Moore Building purchase. “It’s not healthy for the town or county to not have people in buildings. I don’t like encumbering future boards, but I would like to commit to offloading property if we’re buying property. I would love to attach a commitment to offload [the] Thrift Road [property] within 12 months.”
Supervisors Amber Foster and Jonathon Weakley agreed, but questioned if an a longer time period would be needed.
“I’m in favor of it, but I don’t know if 12 months is too soon,” Foster said.
“Thirty-six months?” Weakley asked.
“There’s little redeeming about the property,” board of supervisors chairman Clay Jackson said. “Everyone is in favor of selling it.”
Weakley, who made the motion to purchase the Moore building, amended his motion to also commit the county to selling the Thrift Road property as soon as possible. The motion was seconded by Foster. Weakley said he’d also like to see the county sell the former ABC Building on Main Street as well.
The motion to purchase the Moore building and sell the Thrift Road property was approved 4-1 with Hoffman casting the lone dissenting vote.
According to the purchase agreement, the county will purchase the building for $250,000 with $20,000 down at an owner-financed rate of 4.5 percent over 15 years.