Spencer’s project on the right path


The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners took a significant step forward in getting the redevelopment of the former Spencer’s property on track, when it recently voted to contract with Charlotte attorney DeWitt F. “Mac” McCarley.

The commissioners had been considering entering into such an agreement with the UNC School of Government in Chapel Hill through its Development Finance Initiative, but city leaders had two concerns.

First among those was how responsive that organization could be. City commissioners on several occasions voiced fears that when dealing with a government agency such as this, processes and decisions could drag on for months, rather than days or weeks, as is often needed when dealing with business development decisions.

Second was the price tag, which came in at $50,000 plus 1 percent of the total project cost, to be paid for by whichever developer or developers the city ultimately transfers the property to. That cost could have been a significant roadblock for development of the former textile facility.

So city commissioners voted unanimously to contract with McCarley, who has significant experience in advising on redevelopment projects of this nature. With a background as a city attorney both in Charlotte and Greenville, as well as working with similar projects through the private sector law firm of Parker-Poe, he has worked through nearly three dozen such developments.

He can offer the city advice that comes from a wealth of experience in the field of redevelopment, helping Mount Airy leaders iron out development plans and contingencies, as well as negotiate with potential suitors wishing to build on and buy portions of the property.

McCarley, according to city officials, has been on the former Spencer’s mill, and is excited about the potential for redevelopment of the site, as well as the future of Mount Airy as a whole. While his work won’t come cheaply — at $375 an hour — it still looks to be significantly less than what the UNC School of Government would have cost. McCarley offers the advantage of having worked on developments from both the private and public sector angles, and can have information and answers to prospective developers or city officials relatively quickly.

While the city may have made a few missteps along the way regarding the purchase and planning for the Spencer’s site, it appears city leaders are now getting firmly on the right road toward returning this property to productive use.

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