MOREHEAD CITY — Carteret Health Care is offering Morehead City $1.2 million to buy the National Guard armory property on Bridges Street so the hospital can build a helipad.
A N.C. National Guard representative told the News-Times in early 2019 the armory, at 3413 Bridges St., would close its doors within a couple years as part of a consolidation effort of the state’s armories. The National Guard said it would divest the property back to Morehead City ownership after the armory closes.
If it is accepted, CHC’s offer means the property would go to the hospital, rather than the city, once the armory closes.
“Remember, we don’t own it yet. All we’re selling is our right to the revert, so we will step aside, the hospital will step in our shoes, and it will revert to them once that is actually complete,” city attorney Derek Taylor said during the regular Morehead City Council meeting Tuesday, when the matter came up for consideration.
CHC currently has permission to launch and land helicopters on the armory property, which is across the street from the hospital, but officials have expressed desire to build a permanent helipad there. With the armory soon to be vacated, the hospital is offering to buy the property for $1.2 million.
The city council passed a resolution Tuesday declaring the property as surplus and essentially allowing it to be sold. Normally, the sale of public property must go through an upset bid process, but state statute allows private sales as long as it is to a nonprofit entity that carries out a public purpose. Mr. Taylor said CHC falls under that definition.
“This is just protecting the public interest. Some people would say ‘You didn’t get enough money for it,’ and we understand that, but this isn’t just about the money,” he said. “We’re getting money and we’re also helping the public hospital, and that’s why we can do what we’re doing without going to the bidding process.”
Mr. Taylor noted as a condition of the sale, the property would revert back to Morehead City ownership if the hospital fails to use it in the interest of the public good.
CHC will have 10 days from publication of a public notice announcing the city’s intent to sell to sign a contract for the property. After that, the hospital has an additional 90-day due diligence period to back out of the sale, if it wishes.
Councilman David Horton said even though the property is likely worth more than $1.2 million, he supports the sale.
“I think that we’re selling it for less than it’s actually worth, I think it’s worth more,” he said. “However, the hospital is necessary, it provides fantastic services and jobs to our citizens, we’ll all have a great hospital closer to us with a helipad. …Even though we’re selling it for less, we’re benefitting the community to offset that.”
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.