PILOT MOUNTAIN — Pilot Mountain officials gave the nod Monday night for the town manager and attorney to explore a proposed lease agreement with a local business for space in The Pilot Center.
An existing entity, Sports Solutions Inc. on East Main Street, is interested in initially leasing — and eventually possibly buying — 35,436 square-feet in the center.
The center occupies the former Amos and Smith hosiery-manufacturing facilities which have been reconfigured for new uses.
That includes a satellite campus of Surry Community College along with Pilot Mountain Pride, a marketing center for area farmers to sell their crops. Half of the space at the eight-acre, town-owned site was available for leasing to business, with a bakery and hair salon already there.
The deal with Sports Solutions could help the center reach full occupancy, Town Manager Homer Dearmin said Monday, when the Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners met and decided by consensus to pursue the agreement. Sports Solutions also would be able to double its size.
It is seeking a lease-to-buy arrangement in which $4,350 would be paid in rent each month to the town; that would go toward a proposed purchase price of $213,000.
The leasing of such space in The Pilot Center represents a concept of “business condominiums” at the site, based on discussion at Monday’s meeting.
“State law allows a town to condominiumize a facility,” Town Attorney Ed Woltz said in explaining the proposed agreement to council members.
“We have cleared this with the community college and through all of the funders,” Mayor Earl Sheppard said Monday concerning others with a stake in the enterprise, including grant sources.
Sheppard said he credits the idea of business condos at the center to Dennis Thompson, a recently retired Surry County manager. Thompson first proposed it as the center’s development was taking shape with the help of money from sources such as the Golden LEAF Foundation.
The mayor said he never thought the concept was viable. “And four years later, here it is,” Sheppard said.
“This is new territory for us.”
Monday night’s consensus by the town board will allow Woltz and Dearmin to proceed with the legal processes involved, which will include the advertising of the agreement and inviting “upset bids.” That procedure, required by state law in matters regarding the disposal of public property, is aimed at ensuring the best fiduciary outcome for taxpayers.
“But the board always reserves the right to reject all bids,” Woltz said.
He said the deal with Sports Solutions could be finalized by the end of the year. The business has agreed to make certain building improvements, including a new roof and HVAC system.
Even if Sports Solutions buys the space in the center, the town will maintain ownership of the land, Sheppard assured. That would allow the community college to expand if needed, he added.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.