Citizens will get a chance to share their thoughts on a potential building purchase next week.
A public hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 23 regarding the potential purchase of the Moore Building. Located at 110 Main Street, the 6,200 square foot building houses the county visitor center and economic development and tourism department. More recently, space has also been subleased to the Literacy Council and there is meeting space upstairs which is utilized by various groups including the chamber of commerce and planning commission subcommittees.
The county actually already owned the building, opting to sell it to current owner Kenneth Moore in 2001 for $25,000. Currently, the county rents the building for $1,408.38 per month. The county is in its fourth year of a five year lease on the building which ends Dec. 31, 2019. The lease requires notification of intentions to extend the lease for another term by Oct. 1, 2019 and includes a purchase option. The purchase option limits the price to $295,000 and requires three months prior written notice.
During budget work sessions earlier this year, supervisors set aside funds for the potential purchase of the property. The idea would be to use transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenue to cover the costs associated with the visitor center portion of the building. A small portion of the building costs are already being covered by the Literacy Council in rent and the upstairs spaces could be rented as offices. There’s also a possibility of grant funding from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
“The idea is to make it cost neutral,” board of supervisors chairman Clay Jackson said. “We’ve invested money in it and we have a good facility.”
Supervisor Jonathon Weakley said if the building were to be purchased, he’d like to see some others come off the county books.
“I like the idea of offloading Thrift Road and seeing what we can do with the old ABC building,” he said. “It’s prime property for business.”
Supervisor Kevin McGhee said he’s not wild about the county owning additional property in absence of a plan for the property it current has. Like Weakley, he’d like to get rid of some of it. However, he said he likes the idea of something being in the building on Main Street, even though he wishes it were business and not a county entity.
“It’s healthier for the town to have something in the store fronts,” he said.
McGhee said he wasn’t opposed to having the potential sale be the subject of a public hearing. Weakley agreed.
“It definitely needs to go to the public because that’s who is paying for it,” Weakley said.
Supervisor Charlotte Hoffman, however, is opposed to purchasing the building. She said the 93-year-old building is “sick” with a wet basement with no solution since it is built on rock with no place for the water to drain. She said it also has mold, which was recently remediated by the Literacy Council, but will likely reoccur. She also questioned if a structural engineer should evaluate the property and said it doesn’t meet commercial parking requirements of one space per 150 square feet.
Instead, Hoffman said she’s in favor of moving the tourism and economic development office and the visitor center into the Arcade Building, located just down the street from the Moore Building. She said the building is already owned by the county and would be ideal for a tourism office since it is a historical landmark. She said it’s also already ADA accessible and has more parking.
“With the large amount of debt we are going to incur in the next few years, it appears the county does not need an investment that is going to add debt of at least $250,000 plus to our already overburdened coffers,” Hoffman said. “An investment is not good if you have no use for it. We already own a historical building in downtown Madison that is an ideal location for a tourism center.”
The public hearing on the potential purchase of the Moore Building will be held July 23 at 6 p.m. Information on the building, including inspections, mold and radon tests and termite inspections can be found online at https://www.madisonco.virginia.gov/bos/page/board-supervisors-meeting-5