Pasquotank County will give the Boys & Girls Club and the SOULS feeding program a portion of the proceeds from the anticipated sale of the former Elizabeth City Middle School.
County commissioners voted earlier this week to give the Boys & Girls Club $150,000 and SOULS $10,000 from the sale, which is expected to bring the county $420,000.
The county agreed last year to sell the former school building to developer J.D. Lewis Construction Management. JDL is planning to spend around $10 million to convert the structure into 84 market-rate apartments.
The transaction between the county and JDL is currently in the due diligence phase.
Both Boys and Girls Club and Souls currently use part of the former school and both must relocate at some point after the sale to JDL becomes final.
“We will assist (them) with the temporary relocation, which we are currently doing,” Hammett said.
The Police Athletic League currently uses a stand-alone gym at the former middle school. The county plans to explore leasing the gym from JDL for 20 years with an option to buy it after five years at a predetermined price.
Pasquotank is also going to dedicate 12-county owned parcels behind the gym on Pearl Street to the city for use by the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Parks and Recreation Department.
The $150,000 the county plans to give the Boys & Girls Club is actually the same amount the club contributed in 2014 to help renovate the former school. If the sale is completed, the club will essentially get its money back.
Pasquotank does not charge SOULS for the space it uses at the former school but the county is going to contribute $10,000 to the organization from the sale for relocation assistance.
“That building has been in need of a makeover for some time now,” said Commissioner Barry Overman. “It’s a good opportunity to help the folks that are in there now move and give them some startup money.”
JDL would renovate the PAL gym but those costs, plus interest would be amortized through the lease agreement.
“The suggested lease terms are still to be determined as final costs of renovations based on a Parks and Recreation wish list and a PAL wish list are still being calculated,” Hammett said. “(JDL) has an architect and engineer putting together cost estimates.”
Hammett said the county’s donation of the 12 parcels of property along with the gym lease and possible future purchase of the gym will be an asset for Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Parks and Rec.
“The net effect would be the attainment of a renovated gymnasium-community center and 3.5 acres of green space to Parks and Rec at a substantially reduced cost with little up-front expenditure,” he said.
Hammett has described the JDL project as “transformative” for the county and city since it will restore and preserve a historic building.
Once the project is completed the county is expected to collect $21,000 a year in property tax revenue while the city will receive $18,000 annually.
“Currently, we get no tax revenue,” Hammett noted. “Redevelopment of the site will increase population in the downtown area.”
He said that will have “a positive economic and spending impact on businesses, thus increasing sales tax revenue.”
The county’s actions approved earlier this week are all contingent on JDL obtaining conditional zoning for the project from the city.
City Council will hold a public hearing on that zoning request Monday after voting 6-1 to hold the hearing last month.
But the tone of the discussions on holding the public hearing indicated that the rift between Elizabeth City City Council and Pasquotank County commissioners over Andrew Brown Jr.’s fatal shooting could affect the project.
Councilor Gabriel Adkins cast the lone “no” vote on holding the public hearing while Councilor Darius Horton asked city officials who owned the middle school and what would happen if City Council did not approve the developers’ zoning request.
“There’s a possibility that this would not go forward and he (JD Lewis) would not be able to purchase this from the county, is that correct?” Horton asked at the time.
Interim Community Development Director Deborah Malenfant responded by saying that was a “possibility.”