CLOVER — Town officials plan to spend $171,000 to purchase the former bank building next to Clover Town Hall to expand crowded city offices and offer a drive-through for utility customers.
Town Manager Allison Harvey said the town — which finalized a purchase agreement for the 116 Bethel St. property with the owner in early January — plans to close on the deal Friday.
She said the agreement calls for the town to purchase the 2,257-square-foot, one-story brick building on .73 acres for its appraised value. The owner is First States Investors 3035, she said.
Clover Mayor Donnie Grice said he was “tickled pink” over the deal.
“It’s a double opportunity for us,” Grice said Monday. “It’s an opportunity for us to take a building that’s been in disrepair for many years and turn it into something that’s not an eyesore.”
In addition, he said, “we’re going to take advantage of the space. We’re busting at the seams with our current City Hall. We’re going to be able to kill two birds with one stone.”
Harvey said more Town Hall office space was identified as a need of the town as early as 2007. The bank building, formerly inhabited by Wachovia, has been vacant for about 10 years, she said.
“We need a new Town Hall,” Harvey said. “Our existing building is too small for our staff needs, especially with regard to storage. We have no place to store our records — and I’m not even talking about old records. We have no place to store our supplies. And it’s definitely not a showplace for economic development meetings, and that kind of thing.”
Harvey said the former bank building will need some renovations — including replacing the white columns on the front, replacing windows and some cosmetic improvements to the interior.
The town has planned ahead for those costs, she said, including $250,000 for the building purchase in its $800,000 bond issue for New Centre Park. It also budgeted up to $175,000 for renovations this year.
She said the former bank building offers plenty of office space and lots of storage in the attic. The drive-though can be used for utility bill payments, she said, and the bank vault can store permanent records.
Harvey said she expects the existing Town Hall office on Bethel Street, with six employees, to move into the new Town Hall building in late 2013, when renovations are complete.
The old Town Hall would then serve as office space for the building and code enforcement officials, now housed in the Clover Police Department building, and the municipal court office, located next to the police station.
Harvey said the town engaged in discussions about buying the former Wachovia building in 2010, when the owner wanted $390,000 for the property. She said the owner was willing to lease the property, but Town Council members didn’t want to do that.
“It would need renovations to suit our purposes,” Harvey said about the building. “I didn’t seem like a great idea to lease something, make improvements to and we wouldn’t own it.”
In March 2012, she said, the Town Council voted to authorize Harvey to acquire the building even if it had to use its power of eminent domain, which allows a government to acquire a property for public purpose without the consent of the owner as long as the owner is paid fair market value.
In early January, she said, the owner agreed to the town’s offer to purchase the property for its appraised value. “It’s been five-plus years in the making, and I for one am really excited about it,” she said.