Citizens will get a second opportunity to voice their opinions on the potential purchase of the Moore Building.
Next week, supervisors will host a second public hearing on the purchase of the historic Main Street property which 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 is rented to the county for $1,408.38 per month. The county has the option to purchase the building for $295,000.
A public hearing on the potential purchase was held in August with speakers split. Some favored the purchase, some did not. Also split were supervisors with board of supervisors chairman Clay Jackson in favor of the purchase and supervisor Charlotte Hoffman not.
The building is not without its issues with inspections uncovering 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 issue 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.
However, due to its size and location, the building makes an ideal spot for visitor center, which Madison County Economic Development and Tourism Director Tracey Gardner pointed out is certified. Certified visitor centers benefit from having their information in every visitor center throughout the state as well as state-owned welcome centers. It also allows for the large directional signs located on Rt. 29 which help bring visitors into the county, Gardner said.
She also said the building had no issues during the 2011 earthquake which shook local properties and pointed out that due to its age, the Arcade building on Main Street, which Hoffman has suggested as a new location for the offices currently located in the Moore Building, likely has the same problems.
It’s possible the renovations could be subject to tax rebates, Gardner said, but those would have to be done by a private investor since the county can’t receive tax credits. There’s also the fact that tourism is big business in Madison, to the tune of $35 million.
“If you were the board of a Fortune 500 company that had a business making $35 million per year, you would be expanding it, not trying to shove it into a building with issues,” Matt Gardner said at the previous public hearing on the matter. “You don’t treat it like the gas station down the street. You treat it like a $35 million business. This is a historical building that deserves to be fixed.”
Supervisor Kevin McGhee said that statement stuck with him.
“I take Matt’s comment to heart,” he said. “With the amount of money coming into the county, I think whatever we do; we should keep that in mind. It’s a big deal and we should spend appropriately to support it.”
He also said if the county had done the work that has been put into the building since it was sold, it would have cost a lot more than the $295,000 asking price.
The public hearing will be held Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at 414 N. Main Street, Madison.