North Wilkesboro commissioners unanimously agreed on Nov. 10 to begin an upset bid process for selling the former Elks Lodge building and land off Finley Avenue after $200,000 was offered for the property.
The offer to purchase was from Scott D. Nafe, a businessman who bought and helped bring new life to several commercial and industrial properties in North Wilkesboro. Nafe made the offer in a Nov. 3 email to Town Manager Wilson Hooper.
Nafe stated in the email, “My current intent is to redevelop the property, saving the existing structure… (and converting it) to market-rate (non-subsidized rental) apartments or for-sale condominiums.”
Nafe added, “There currently exists adequate land areas on the site for additional multi-family or condominium units. It is too beautiful a structure to be lost to this community.”
The former Elks Lodge, built in 1923 as the home of local industrialist P. Ward Eshelman and his family, is on a 4.2-acre parcel. It was established as the meeting and dining place for the North Wilkesboro Elks Club in 1955. An addition was completed in 1962, bringing the two-story brick building to 7,000 square feet of floor space.
Hooper said an advertisement of the opening bid of $200,000 and an explanation of the upset bid process would be published in the Nov. 18 issue of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.
The next bid must be at least 5% greater than Nafe’s bid (at least $210,000) to successfully upset the $200,000 offer. If the town receives a bid of at least $210,000, it must advertise for an upset bid that exceeds that amount by at least 5% and so on.
With the upset bid process, the property can be sold to the highest bidder if a bid exceeding that amount by at least 5% isn’t received within the advertised period of time.
Hooper and Meredith Detsch, North Wilkesboro director of planning, said interest in the Elks Lodge property was recently received from other parties, in addition to Nafe. Hooper didn’t identify any other parties, but said their levels of interest vary.
The town purchased the property for $200,000 in 2016, partially as the possible site of new facilities for the North Wilkesboro police and fire departments. It has been unused since then. It was appraised for $230,000 in 2015, and its current tax value is $365,480.
Hooper noted, “The appraisal says that the building itself is of no real value and implies that the property may actually be worth more without the building.”
Nafe has redeveloped several properties in the town, including the former Key City Furniture factory, Carolina Mirror factory, American Drew furniture factory and Melody Square shopping center.
Also on Tuesday, the board:
• called for a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 regarding a draft ordinance establishing standards for nonresidential buildings and structures ordinance. Hooper said no changes have been made to the proposed ordinance as a result of public feedback so far;
• heard public comments from Kim Byrd about motor vehicles speeding on Sixth Street. Hooper told Byrd that speed deterrent measures were ongoing and that data would soon be analyzed by town staff and the N.C. Department of Transportation;
• approved an agreement for assistance in emergency situations between the N.C. Department of Public Safety, the Wilkes Correctional Center on Statesville Road and the Town of North Wilkesboro. The agreement makes town personnel available to help the prison with functions such as traffic control and supplements an existing agreement between the prison and the North Wilkesboro Police Department; and
• approved the reappointment of Stephen Gentry for a three-year term on the town’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.