Two years after a house was built by way of a partnership between the City of Clinton and Sampson Community College to provide quality affordable housing in the city, a buyer has been found — and offered $70,000 for the house, accepted by the City Council this week.
It was one of two Council-approved moves that gave a boost to housing in Clinton, with other action taken to renovate a structure at 303 Lisbon St., through a combination of city and private funds, that was previously set for demolition.
The City of Clinton received the offer to purchase the house at 115 W. Lee St. from John G. Matthews Jr. In accordance with N.C. General Statute, the offer was advertised through the upset bid process for 10 days.
No additional offers were received and, at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, city manager John Connet requested the Council authorize Mayor Lew Starling to sell the house to Matthews for $70,000 and allow for the city to allocate up to $3,500 toward closing costs.
The city has been attempting to sell the house at 115 W. Lee St. since the end of 2010.
Through the Clinton Affordable Homeownership Program, the goal was to have a revolving program through which SCC students and professionals build a home that the city would place and sell. The cost could be recouped and the build and sell process could begin all over again.
“As we sell one house, we plan to purchase another vacant lot with those proceeds in order to place another house from the community college,” Connet has said. “The ultimate goal is to continue providing safe, affordable homes for low to moderate-income families.”
And not only would low-cost, well-built homes be available, they would take their place where nuisance homes and unsafe structures were previously condemned and demolished. In April 2010, the City Council approved purchasing its first house as part of the agreement for $65,000. Just a couple weeks later, the house was placed at the city-owned West Lee Street lot, where an unsafe home was previously demolished. Work was completed by the end of the year.
SCC placed a value of $52,855 on the 1,200-square-foot house, complete with three bedrooms and two baths. The home includes central heat and air and comes with all major appliances. It was professionally appraised at $85,000.
But then the house sat there on a quarter-acre of land in District 5 … for about two and a half years.
Just a couple months ago, Connet updated Council on unsuccessful efforts to sell and the board authorized city staff to use all means necessary to get the house sold or leased. With no outright buyers, Connet proposed financing the purchase of the house over a 12-year period to cover costs for the house. An agreement had been drafted by which the house was set to be leased for a year, in order for the tenant to collect the funds in the first year needed for the 5 percent down payment required as part of the upset bid process.
Then the offer came in.
“The sale will be financed through a private lending institution,” Connet said. “At this price, the City of Clinton will break even and meet our goal of providing new, safe and affordable home in this neighborhood.”
Its sale was unanimously approved by the Council.
“We put a lot of work into this and thank you for your efforts,” said Starling.
City to renovate, not demolish
In February, the City Council approved a contract to demolish the house at 303 Lisbon St., formerly the Catholic Church Educational Building. However, a private donor stepped in and the home is now set for major renovations.
In February, Connet said, “after extensive thought and discussion among staff” about what to do with the house, demolition of the structure was believed to be in best interest of the city, with the structure said to be “beyond repair.” Connet noted extensive repairs, specifically for the water-damaged roof.
Funding those repairs would divert money from other building projects on the city’s radar, city staff said then.
“It is city property,” Connet said in February. “This decision is based on our many other building needs and not having the resources to renovate this structure. It is in the best interest of city buildings and, if we’re asking our property owners to maintain their facilities, we have to do ours too.”
Connet recommend approval of the bid to D.H. Griffin Contracting in the amount of $25,220.
However, prior to demolishing the house, resident Anne Faircloth made an offer to provide $50,000 toward its preservation. Clinton-Sampson planning director Mary Rose obtained quotes to repair the rear portion of the house, as well as the siding and replace the HVAC, and is currently seeking additional quotes to rewire the house.
“The house is structurally sound,” Connet said Tuesday, noting the house “could be put back into good use again” through the work.
Once that work is complete, the city can look for prospective tenants to complete final cosmetic work inside the home, Connet said. The city manager requested to spend the $25,000 initially allocated for demolition, along with Faircloth’s $50,000, to complete initial renovations “in the hope of finding somebody who would rent the facility.”
“We’ve looked into this thoroughly,” said Starling, “and I believe this is what we believe is in the best interest of the city.”
The board unanimously approved.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.