Pasquotank County has agreed to sell the former Elizabeth City Middle School building to the developers who built the Weatherly Lofts project overlooking the Elizabeth City waterfront.
The Board of Commissioners agreed to sell the property at 306 North Road Street on Monday to J.D. Lewis Construction Management for $420,000.
J.D. Lewis plans to convert the former school building and other property into approximately 70 market-rate apartments. The developer envisions the completed project featuring one- and two-bedroom units, county officials said.
J.D. Lewis’ offer to buy the property is contingent on its earning Elizabeth City officials’ approval for conditional zoning and Landmark status for the project, county officials said.
J.D. Lewis will have ownership of the standalone gym that is currently used by the Police Athletic League but it will lease it back to the county. J.D. Lewis will also dedicate a portion of the purchased land to the city for a park.
The agreement allows the county 10 months to relocate the Boys & Girls Club and the SOULS Feeding Ministry, which currently use part of the property. County Manager Sparty Hammett said the Boys & Girls Club notified him about a year ago that it was seeking another site. The club is currently discussing “multiple alternatives” as a new site, he added.
Once the apartments are developed, the county and city could each expect to generate $40,000 a year in property taxes from the site.
Hammett told commissioners Monday that the property is a “money pit.” He noted the annex building alone needs around $1.5 million to address repair issues. The main building also has structural issues.
The county also currently pays $12,000 a year for maintenance, insurance and upkeep on the property, Hammett said. And that figure doesn’t include 240 hours of annual staff maintenance time on the property.
“This is a transformative project that will have tremendous benefit for the county, city and to downtown Elizabeth City,” Hammett said. “Given the age and condition of the former Elizabeth City Middle School, the project proposed by JDL, a company with a proven track record in historic renovation, is the highest and best use for the facility.”
Hammett told commissioners J.D. Lewis’ developers approached the county back in July about purchasing the former school property. The county contracted with a broker to get an estimate on the property and that estimate came back at $364,000, he said. That’s nearly $60,000 less than the purchase price the county and J.D. Lewis settled on.
J.D. Lewis owners James Flanigan and Kevin O’Leary converted the former Weatherly Candy Company building at the corner of Water and Elizabeth streets into 43 apartments at a cost of almost $6 million. Tenants began moving into the one bedroom and two-bedroom apartments in March.