Mount Airy officials have sold a portion of the city-owned Spencer’s property to an entity headed by local businessman Gene Rees.
In February 2015, an option-to-buy had been granted for the site in question, which is located beside a parking lot on Willow Street directly behind the Gardner law office building that fronts Franklin Street.
It contains two structures that are part of the former Spencer’s industrial complex that the city government bought in May 2014 for redevelopment purposes.
Rees, through an entity known as Spencer’s Inc., LLC, recently decided to exercise the option to buy the property and the sale was authorized unanimously during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last week.
The purchase price is $10,000, which includes a $1,000 option fee previously paid.
This joins former Spencer’s property previously acquired by Rees when the city bought its holdings there in 2014. The longtime downtown businessman successfully bid on a small portion of the Spencer’s complex bordering Oak Street to develop into condominiums.
Spencer’s Inc., LLC, was formed in connection with the condo project.
When seeking the option for the additional Spencer’s property located across Willow Street from that previously acquired for the condominiums, Rees explained that he might need it as “insurance” regarding the project.
That development was required to have a price tag of $3 million in order to qualify for mill tax credits available from the state which are designed to facilitate new uses of former textile facilities. In order to ensure the $3 million threshold was reached, Rees said he might be forced to include the property optioned in the project.
Without it, Rees said his condo effort risked losing the tax credits built in to the sales process for the housing units. “The buyers have an expectation of receiving their portion of that tax credit,” Rees said in 2015, which had been figured into the purchase price and amounted to thousands of dollars in each case.
“This is a very big risk for me — it’s a deal-breaker,” Rees added at that time.
But in the wake of the option recently being exercising, Rees said the additional property had not been designated for more condominiums at this point.
“We don’t have any immediate plans,” he said regarding the site.
Rees indicated that the reason the option on it was executed is to allow steps to be taken toward making the property eligible for tax credits to aid its development, explaining this as a time-saving move to get the process going.
Meanwhile, city officials are trying to redevelop the Spencer’s property owned by the municipality, with projects for a four-star hotel/banquet hall, upscale apartments and an entertainment complex now in the works.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.