ECDI director: Pure Oil station sale close

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Elizabeth City Downtown Inc. Director Deborah Malenfant said Thursday that Ken and Mamie Hoffer have agreed to sell their former Pure Oil service station at the corner of Main and Water streets. Malenfant did not disclose the purchaser's name.

Former Zack Robertson building on Water.jpg

By William F. West
Staff Writer

Friday, July 20, 2018

The long-vacant former Pure Oil service station building at one of downtown Elizabeth City’s key intersections may soon have a new owner.

Elizabeth City Downtown Inc. Director Deborah Malenfant told EDCI board members on Thursday that an offer for the former service station at the corner of Main and Water streets has been made and accepted by the property’s owners, Ken and Mamie Hoffer.

Malenfant said the deal includes the Hoffers selling an adjacent vacant commercial building.

Malenfant did not name the potential buyer of the two properties, but she indicated the investor is female.

According to Malenfant, the potential buyer is in the “due diligence” phase of the deal. As part of that process, Malenfant plans to meet today at the Hoffer properties with the potential buyer and city staff from a number of departments. Malenfant said the potential buyer wants to make sure “there aren’t any major hurdles that she would hit that might hinder the purchase.”

Malenfant did not elaborate further.

The Hoffers could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

During Thursday’s ECDI meeting, board Secretary Geoff McNamara said the Pure Oil building’s impending sale, if it happens, will fill vacant building space on Water Street, while board member Gene Scott pointed out it will do the same thing for Main Street.

Malenfant told the ECDI board that plans are in the works to fill a majority of the vacant spaces downtown, most of which are along Water Street. She said doing so should change the dynamic for motorists entering the city’s downtown.

She said investors continue to either buy properties downtown or put money into renovating buildings they already own.

"It feels like it's slowing down, only because some of the big projects — like the Weatherly lofts project and the brewery — haven't yet started, but I anticipate them starting soon. And I think that will, like, push the momentum," she said.

City Manager Rich Olson said Thursday that city staff are excited about the prospect of someone buying the vacant Pure Oil building and turning it into a viable downtown project.

The Hoffers bought the former Pure Oil Station in September 2013, paying Wood-Hall Inc. of Nags Head $95,000 for the property. In January 2014, the Hoffers bought the Robertson building from Zack Robertson for $240,000.

The Hoffers’ plan was to renovate both buildings into a wine and sandwich shop. At some point, however, they apparently grew disenchanted with the project. Ken Hoffer placed the blame on city and downtown officials, claiming a lack of support for the Hoffers’ plans.

Olson, however, said city staff met with the Hoffers and their representatives about different options for both the former Pure Oil station and Robertson building. He said the Hoffers’ plans were fluid and city staff could never get a clear idea what they wanted to do with the properties.