After being declared “not on time” earlier this year, the bar is being raised on efforts to redevelop the former Spencer’s Inc. property in a more expedient manner, according to a city official.
The motivation for that is having pre-development tasks accomplished in order to qualify — timewise — for historic tax credits deemed vital for plans including a hotel/banquet center, upscale apartments and a performance arts center on the old Spencer’s site.
That is expected to be part of a presentation by Spencer’s Mill Redevelopment Project developers during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners Thursday which begins at 7 p.m.
The presentation is coming on the heels of actions taken at the last commissioners meeting on April 6, which included voting on a revised schedule for the project. They also approved a plan for an entity spearheading one of the three developments — Belmont Sayre, LLC, the apartments — to take the lead role in managing subcontractors and other aspects of the overall project.
In a meeting during the winter, City Attorney Hugh Campbell told council members that the redevelopment efforts were “not on time” at that point.
“They are not on schedule,” Campbell — who has worked extensively on the redevelopment along with Mayor David Rowe and City Manager Barbara Jones — said then in response to a question from Commissioner Jon Cawley.
The city attorney said Monday he thinks the recent actions by the commissioners — which amended an original agreement with the three developers to narrow down certain areas — will get the project on track. “The board just said these guys needed to be on a revised timetable that has some teeth to it,” Campbell explained.
“I think it just reflects where we are now,” Campbell said of the amended agreement for the redevelopment.
“It’s been analyzed and studied and discussed at great length, and it’s time now to start getting more tangible results from the developers.”
Campbell said this is to include a presentation of conceptual drawings at Thursday night’s meeting.
“That’s one of the things on the timeline,” he said of an April 2017 date specified with the board’s vote on April 6.
“Up to this point, everything the development team has seen has been very preliminary drawings,” Campbell said of him and other city representatives involved, along with a Charlotte attorney specializing in redevelopment.
Another target date on the revised timetable is June 2017, for completing a finance package related to the tax credits.
“If they stay on that, we’ll be able to qualify for the tax credits,” Campbell said Monday.
He said allowing Belmont Sayre, a real estate development firm in Durham, to play the lead role with subcontracting and other functions is a logical move. Among the three developers, Campbell considers it to “singularly” possess the ability and experience to handle that role.
Redevelopment plans previously announced for Belmont Sayre include constructing 80 apartment units on Spencer’s property with rental costs ranging from $700 to $1,200 per month.
The other developers include Brookstown Hospitality, which is seeking to establish an 80-room hotel/banquet hall, and Fabrica Development Inc., an entity linked to local businessman Tom Webb. It is eyeing a performing arts/business center, possibly including a regional dinner theater.
Campbell said Monday he is “satisfied” with where the redevelopment effort stands at this point, which at last report has resulted in more than $400,000 being spent by the municipality for pre-development costs. This has included funding “brownfield” environmental assessments to address any pollution problems lingering from the city-owned property’s former uses.
“I think we’ve got the right team of people, and I think they’ve got the vision for the project that will change the face of Mount Airy,” the attorney said Monday.
“I’m confident that these guys will come up with something the citizens of Mount Airy will be excited about.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.