Walnut Cove is in the process of trying to sell the property where the old Dodson Hotel used to stand.
The town’s Board of Commissioners agreed to enter into an upset bid process for the property last week after receiving a bid for $30,000 for the property last month from El Cabo owner Keelan Jones contingent on the property passing a soil compaction test.
Town Manager Bobby Miller told the board last week the property had passed the test with flying colors.
“I am pleased to tell you that you can build in the old hotel lot, it structurally can support foundations,” he said.
Jones told the board last month that he hopes to purchase the property to move his restaurant into the downtown area.
But Commissioner Charles Mitchell said he felt the offer of $30,000 for the property was too low.
“I am talking about getting a fair market value,” he said, noting that the property had a tax valuation of $60,600. “He will pay the same taxes where he is and not employ anyone else. I am saying not to just give it away to friends.”
Commissioner Sharon Conaway argued that the town had only received a few bids for the property in the time it had owned it, none of which came close to the $30,000 Jones was offering.
“The market value is whatever the public is willing to pay for it,” she said. “We had a contract with a real estate agent for 18 months and got no offers.
“If we pass this resolution it will start an upset bid process,” she added. “It gives anyone else the chance to come in and out bid him. He is going to build an establishment there that will increase the property taxes on the property.”
Mitchell also raised concerns over parking for the property, but the board ultimately voted unanimously to start the upset bid process.
“We have sat on this property for a long time and I don’t think we should be in the business of retaining property,” said Conaway. “The only way we are going to grow is to build”
“I think it is a good opportunity to release the property,” agreed Mayor Lynn Lewis. “We make a little money on it and Mr. Jones has the opportunity to move into downtown. I don’t see how we can go wrong.”
Both Conaway and Commissioner Elwood Mabe voted in favor of selling the property, while Mitchell and Commissioner Danny Hairston did not vote either for against the proposal, an action which Lewis said would count as a ‘Yay’ vote.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.