Another affordable house will be created through a partnership between the City of Clinton and Sampson Community College, whose students are expected to finish construction on the home later this summer.
City manager Shawn Purvis reported to City Council last week that he had met with Barney Grady at Sampson Community College regarding the purchase of the college’s house, which is expected to be complete this summer. Purvis asked Grady and SCC president Dr. Paul Hutchins to prepare a cost estimate for the house similar to the previous purchase agreement.
“Once that is in hand, I will bring it before Council for consideration,” Purvis stated. “At this time, I would recommend Council consider locating the house to one of the city’s two lots on Ferrell Street across from Public Works.”
Through the Clinton Affordable Homeownership Program, the goal is to have a revolving program through which SCC students and professionals build a home that the city places and sells. The cost could be recouped and the build and sell process could begin all over again. While that revolving process took a good amount of time previously, city officials expect this house to be sold in shorter order.
As one house is sold, a vacant lot can be purchased with the proceeds — or an existing city-owned lot used — in order to place another house from the community college. The ultimate goal of the program is to continue providing safe, affordable homes for low to moderate-income families.
In April 2010, the City Council approved purchasing its first house for $65,000 as part of the agreement. By the end of 2010, the completed house was up for sale at the city-owned property at 115 W. Lee St., where an unsafe home was previously demolished. However, it was not until some two and a half years later, in May 2013, that the city was able to sell it to John G. Matthews Jr. for $70,000, minus closing costs fronted by the Council.
“We’ve been breaking even,” Purvis said during a recent meeting with Council, touching on the continuation of the project. “We invested about $65,000 and we sold it for about $65,000. The goal was to sell it for $75,000 or $80,000 and we were really hoping for that. We had a lot of interest at that price, but it was just getting someone qualified.”
In early 2013, when it did not immediately sell, Council authorized city staff to use all means necessary to get the house sold or leased. With no outright buyers, a proposal to finance the purchase of the house over a 12-year period was drafted and was set to be carried out when the offer from Matthews came in.
Mayor Lew Starling noted that the economy was in the dumps several years ago, when the house was trying to be sold, and times has since improved.
“Today it would be different,” Councilman Steve Stefanovich said. Purvis agreed.
City officials said that even at break-even status, the project meets its aim at providing low-cost, well-built homes where nuisance homes and unsafe structures were previously condemned and demolished.
SCC placed a value of $52,855 on its previous 1,200-square-foot house, which was built complete with three bedrooms, two baths, central heat and air and containing all major appliances. It was professionally appraised at $85,000.
Stefanovich lauded the project, along with other Council members, including Neal Strickland, who requested that a different design be used each time to mix it up. Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose concurred that “different designs and something a little unique in the architecture” was needed for the housing project.
Purvis said he is targeting Ferrell Street for the next venture’s destination.
And depending on how that lot is split, the city manager noted, it could accommodate two separate homes.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.