Mount Airy officials took another step toward the redevelopment of the former Spencer’s Inc. property Thursday afternoon when the city commissioners unanimously approved a contract to launch preliminary work at the municipal-owned site.
“This begins the process of pre-development activities,” City Attorney Hugh Campbell explained regarding the action taken.
He said this will include items such as architectural and engineering services for surveys and preparation of a subdivision plan.
Campbell said the goal of all this will be “a good conceptual site plan to put out for construction” bids — but Mayor David Rowe reminded Thursday that actual work won’t be readily noticeable.
“Progress is being made,” Rowe said, “although citizens won’t see some real progress for some time” at the site located in downtown Mount Airy.
The seven-page contract approved Thursday afternoon involves assistance to be provided by the city government in undertaking community development activities for projects involving three entities planning to develop portions of the former industrial property where production ceased in 2007.
Those developers include Brookstown Hospitality, which is seeking to establish an 80-room hotel/banquet hall; Belmont Sayre, an 80-unit market-rate apartment complex; and Fabrica Development Inc., an entity linked to local businessman Tom Webb which is eyeing a performing arts/business center, reportedly to include a regional dinner theater.
The projects represent a total investment of $28.5 million, but local officials have said throughout the redevelopment process that the success of the effort will depend upon receiving tax credits to aid the financing of each.
“This is the second contract in a series of contracts we will be developing between the city of Mount Airy and the developers,” said Campbell, who has played an integral role in bringing the revitalization plan together. The mayor praised Campbell Thursday for his ability to address all the “nuances” desired by each party involved.
On July 21, the commissioners approved an option/incentive agreement whereby each developer has a two-year option to buy the property for the respective projects. It calls for the municipality to recover $35,000 from each when those options are exercised, a total of $105,000 — what it paid for the sprawling Spencer’s site in 2014.
The city attorney said the architectural, engineering and site plan work specified in the contract approved Thursday will cost the municipality an estimated $132,500 of a total $382,500 appropriation for pre-development activities the commissioners OK’d on July 21.
Among the contract’s provisions are steps requiring the private development group to engage architects and engineers acceptable to the city and provide cost estimates for their work to be approved in advance by Mount Airy officials.
Also specified is an agreed-to scope of work that requires pre-development activities to be eligible for reimbursement as “qualified rehabilitation expenditures” and to represent costs that produce tangible work to benefit the project, which may include marketing studies.
A two-year timeline has been set for the pre-development activities, which are to end when building permits are issued. The city then would be repaid pre-development costs, with infrastructure work and construction to begin at that point.
A payoff of $117,990 in combined annual property tax revenues is anticipated by the municipality from the three projects, in addition to other possible revenues generated as a result
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.