, 2014

Town to purchase 1 North Main Street

by Audrey Thomasson

KILMARNOCK—For a dozen years, town officials have discussed whether to relocate the town hall to more central and appropriate facilities. The move was all but assured Monday night when council voted 4-2 to purchase 1 North Main Street.

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Town manager Tom Saunders said he is hopeful the 6,000-square-foot building will be ready for occupancy by the end of June, following light renovations.

Councilman Howard Straughan’s motion to purchase the Bay Trust building from Lancaster Bank for $729,500 was supported by members Rebecca Nunn, Emerson Gravatt and Mae Umphlett. Voting against the purchase were members Shawn Donahue and William Smith.

During the discussion, Smith said he liked the location and building, but was opposed to committing to a purchase price without a certified appraisal.

While Donahue agreed the location was good, he felt the price was excessive in the current economy.

After the meeting, Mayor Raymond Booth said he would rather build or renovate at the town’s current location.

“The purchase price exceeds the assessed value,” said Booth.

Saunders said the tax assessment for 1 North Main Street is $556,500.

“I’d like to do something on this [current town hall] property,” Booth said. “Build a new police department, add on and renovate the current building. The Bay Trust building doesn’t have many parking spots. Where will police park?”

According to town officials, the current town hall was purchased over 20 years ago as a temporary town hall until a new facility was built.

“It was a building supply store,” Saunders said. “There’s still some saw equipment out back.”

However, the building has had years of structural problems, including leaking roofs in both buildings, collapsing floors, and mold.

Nunn said the decision to purchase the Bay Trust property was the smartest and most fiscally responsible for citizens and the community. “It’s a building our citizens can be proud of.”

She laid out three options members considered.

In option one, she said building a comparable building on the present location would amount to $909,000, including $540,000 for the building, $10,000 for site improvement, $25,000 for demolition and factoring in the value of the land at $334,000.

In the second scenario, building on a portion of the 9 acres of town property at North Main and Town Center Drive, Nunn said the total cost would be $813,500. That amount breaks down to $810,000 for a comparable building, an estimated $50,000 to $100,000 for VDOT required road improvements, $200,000 for site improvements and $87,000 for that portion of the nine acres the facility would occupy, for a total of $1,147,500. Factoring in the sale of the current town hall property at $334,000 brings the total to $813,500.

The third option is the one council approved and would result in a final price of $475,500. That figure was achieved by adding the value of the building at $679,000, light renovation of $75,000, $5,000 for site improvements and $50,400 for the land for a total of $809,500. Factoring in the sale of the existing town hall for $334,000, the bottom line cost is $475,500.

“In this case, looking at the three options, an appraisal wasn’t necessary to make our decision,” said Nunn. Council plans to have an appraisal done, she said, but the only qualified appraiser who is independent of the property is not available for another month, she said. “We’re getting an appraisal. We’re getting an inspection, all the due diligence. The contract is contingent on that.”

Nunn said council negotiated for five parking spots in the bank lot on West Church. Also, employees can park in the adjacent town lot or on the street, and the Bay Trust site will accommodate six vehicles for citizens stopping by town hall, she said.

“It would take two years to build a town hall. This facility will be an economic boon to town,” Nunn said. “It is fully equipped with all the technology we need, it will be used all the time and available for community use. I feel it’s the best of the three choices. We’re doing what’s best for the citizens and the town. And it’s fiscally conservative.”

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