Considering it

The Morehead City Council will consider the sale of the city hall building on Arendell Street at its Tuesday meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers of the municipal building at 202 S. 8th St. (Dylan Ray photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — The city council is slated to consider the sale of the city hall building on Arendell Street during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday in the municipal building.

The item will be included on the agenda under “new business,” according to City Manager Ryan Eggleston. The city council held a closed session meeting with the city attorney Monday to discuss the topic, which will be up for public comment and a formal vote Tuesday beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers of the municipal building at 202 S. 8th St.

Mr. Eggleston told the News-Times Wednesday at least one entity has expressed interest in buying the city’s property at 706 Arendell St. If the council approves putting it up for sale, it will undergo a bidding process known as an upset bid.

“Over the past few months, we’ve had interest from different folks, and we have at least (one) concrete interested party,” he said Wednesday. “You obviously need that to be able to move that process forward, so I think council is willing to consider that as a new business item for next Tuesday’s meeting.”

Mr. Eggleston invites any member of the public who wishes to comment on the possible building sale to attend the meeting and share their thoughts. He said there has already been some interest among the community. He also noted it is entirely up to the council to vote with the majority in favor of the sale before the bidding process can begin.

At least one council member has expressed they may vote against the sale.

The city manager explained the upset bidding process, which is required by state general statute, by comparing it to an ongoing auction. Interested buyers who meet a minimum bid amount and certain conditions set by the council will be able to bid within a 10-day window. Whenever someone bids, the window resets until 10 days have gone by with no bids.

“If council so chooses (this) week, they’ll set a reserve and some other conditions, and then at that point, once those are set, then anyone and everyone who meets those conditions is able to bid,” Mr. Eggleston said. “…It’s almost like an auction, but instead (of) being done over a day or in an hour period, it’s done over 10-day periods, and every time someone bids it extends that period.”

After the last bid is in, the council will take a look at all the bids and choose whether to accept the high bid or reject all bids. That vote would take place during a monthly meeting with the full council present.

The city is looking at selling the Arendell Street property ahead of completion of the new city hall building on Bridges Street. Construction on the new, consolidated city hall building is expected to begin this week, with an official groundbreaking scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m.

The new building will contain the city’s government offices, which are currently split between city hall on Arendell Street and the municipal building on S. 8th Street. Mr. Eggleston said if the council agrees to the sale, it can set certain conditions on the buyer, including that the city may rent the space until the new building is complete.

Mr. Eggleston noted there are no immediate plans to sell the municipal building, which is the only single building in Morehead City on the state’s register of historic places.   

“This consideration of 706 Arendell St. does not have anything to do with the 202 S. 8th (St.) property, and council is still … working on the long-range plans of this building,” he said.

The council will meet at 4 p.m. for a special workshop prior to its regular monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. A full agenda for the regular meeting will be available on the city’s website at moreheadcitync.org by this afternoon.

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

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