Council finalizes Bardolph building sale

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IMG_20160119_213849905by Joanna Rutter

The Greensboro City Council unanimously voted to finalize the sale of the Dorothy Bardolph Building to developer Marty Kotis on Tuesday night.

During the discussion of the item, Mark Schweibinz of Property Resources of Raleigh — represented on the floor by attorney Nathan Duggins — presented a partially executed offer of $1 million and asked the council to consider reopening the upset bid period. Council moved ahead with the vote as scheduled, though the building had been appraised by the city at $1,035,000 and Kotis made the highest offer at $900,000 in October. No one had made a higher offer during the ten-day upset bid period.

Councilwoman Sharon Hightower had not been aware of Schweibinz’s offer until that evening, she said.

“I don’t like being slammed like that, right here,” she said.

“We’re late to the game,” Duggins said. “[But] you’re selling a building at $21 per square foot. This is nice office space.”

Chuck Winfree, an attorney representing Kotis, followed Duggins’ offer by asking the council not to reopen the bid.

“My client, as you may know, owns quite a few properties in Greensboro, and is in the process of selling other properties to focus their investment in Greensboro,” Winfree said. “Opening rebidding at this point, not only would it be unfair … it may make it not feasible for them to be a viable contender for the building.”

Councilman Justin Outling and Assistant City Manager David Parrish both mentioned the extent of city’s advertising campaign, which they said adequately publicized the building when the offer period was open.

“A number of large developers expressed interest in the property, but for whatever reason decided not to place a bid, and [Kotis] made the highest offer,” Outling said.

Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson introduced a motion to include a condition to the sale to honor Dorothy Bardolph’s life and accomplishments on a plaque or marker near the building. Bardolph served on city council in the 1970s and is remembered as a champion for racial justice, according to her obituary in the News & Record.

“I certainly would hate for us to recognize somebody for their service for so many years and then just wipe them off the building,” Johnson said. The condition passed unanimously.

In the discussion on honoring Bardolph, Mayor Nancy Vaughan suggested that the revenue from the building’s sale could be used for community services in a fund in Bardolph’s name. The funds are currently planned to go back into maintenance for other city-owned facilities.

“I think it should be focused on where it can do the most community good,” Vaughan said. “We have a lot of competing needs and I think this would be a good revenue source for those.”

Funding for those competing needs, specifically for service providers for the homeless, had been the main topic during the public comment period earlier that evening.

Lindy Garnette of the YWCA and Michelle Kennedy of the Interactive Resource Center, supported by organizers from Black Lives Matter Greensboro, asked the city for $80,000 to offset costs of running their warming centers for the homeless in order prevent deaths caused by extremely cold temperatures. Currently, the organizations are using funds from their existing budgets, which Kennedy said is not sustainable.

During the public comment period, the mayor suggested the speakers to bring the need before the county commissioners as well. Later, during the discussion of using the revenue from the Bardolph building, Hightower echoed that concern.

“Don’t get me wrong, I want to help as many community agencies as possible,” she said. “We’re just opening the door for the county to say, ‘Oh, guess what, they’re going to [give] some more help,’ and they ain’t gonna do anything.”

“Well, we’ve been doing that since 1808,” Vaughan said, smiling.

Council will vote on the amended paragraph detailing usage of the funds — and how they could be allotted to city building maintenance or community service providers — at the next meeting on Feb. 2.