STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON AUGUST 15, 2000
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 11:00 a.m. in the Commissioners= Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building at 100 North King Street, Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Those present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chair Bill Moyer, Commissioner Renee Kumor, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Marilyn Gordon, County Manager David E. Nicholson, County Attorney Angela S. Beeker, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present were Mayor Fred Niehoff, City Manager Chris Carter, and the following members of Hendersonville City Council: Crit Harley, Mary Jo Padgett.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed those in attendance. He stated that the purpose of this meeting was a joint meeting with City Council to discuss the rehabilitation of the Historic Courthouse on Main Street. He stated that Commissioners Kumor and Gordon had been working on this project and he turned the meeting over to them.
REHABILITATION OF HISTORIC COURTHOUSE
Commissioner Kumor again thanked everyone for coming.
Commissioner Gordon briefly formatted the project, asking AWhy Now@ and AWhy the two Boards Together@. Both Boards are players in the program on Main Street and therefore the decisions need to be made with a real understanding between the Boards of what is taking place and why. The things we do need to be in coordination with each other. She stated that we have a real opportunity in what we do with the Historic Courthouse and timing is everything. She stated that Commissioner Kumor would review options for the building. One of the Options is Option zero and that is if we don=t do anything, we just leave the building alone. The building is stable. Commissioner Gordon did not see that as a viable option.
She stated that the timing is good now, the County is looking at a Service Building on the Spartanburg Highway and is currently making decisions as to what departments will be in that building. We have a new jail under construction. As soon as the jail is completed, we will be vacating the old jail and the Magistrate=s office. When that is complete, the push will be on for the Sheriff to locate his offices closer to the new jail.
Commissioner Gordon stated that the City is starting to focus on the South Main area of Hendersonville and what can be done there with a special tax district. The subject of a plaza or a town center has come up. The area in the front of the courthouse may be the most viable place for a town center. How do we coordinate something like that with the City and the County? We have a Chamber of Commerce now looking for more space. Travel & Tourism is in a good sound financial position and located only a block down the street currently. That building has possibilities as well and could play into this plan.
Commissioner Gordon stated that most communities don=t have the opportunity to make choices such as we do with this. She stated AWe have a Travel & Tourism program that I think is the envy of most communities. It brings in people to the downtown area that other communities don=t get and with the location of the Courthouse in the heart of the downtown business district, with the visibility that building has and with the historic significance and the architecture that we have in that building, we need to make a good decision. We don=t need to just do the most expedient or necessarily the least expensive. We need to do what will long term benefit the community most.@ She asked everyone to keep an open mind and listen to the options that Commissioner Kumor will review. This should be a joint City/County effort to make the most and the best use of a real historic resource.
Commissioner Kumor stated that this meeting was planned to give information but also to stimulate both Boards to go back to their respective meetings and discuss what can be done here and what each Board=s participation level will be.
Some of the issues to be considered:
C Ownership of the building.
C Control of the building.
C Flexibility of the building.
C Funding for the building.
One issue of concern to Hendersonville would be what Henderson County does to the Courthouse and what affect it would have on the City=s Main Street project. What will be the City=s level of participation and how much partnering they wish to do with the County on this project. Does the County=s goal for this building match City Council=s long term goals for Downtown Hendersonville?
Commissioner Kumor raised these questions:
C What about the old Jail?
C What about the Nuckoll=s building?
C What about the Grey Hosiery building?
C What about Travel & Tourism?
She offered no answers, just possibilities.
Henderson County would keep all the control and all the ownership. Henderson County would take care of all funding, flexibility, etc. and keep the Historic Courthouse as a county project only. This is the original 1995 plan.
Henderson County use the building for County Administration and Travel & Tourism. It creates an additional funding source to help bring down the debt service.
Commissioner Kumor then mentioned a plaza or city center and public restrooms. City Council would become involved. Parking would be an issue here.
The building could be used for the Chamber of Commerce, Travel & Tourism and the Apple Festival Group. Parking would be needed. It could still have a plaza and public restrooms. The County could manage the building or a non-profit organization could run it. It would bring in very little revenue.
This is the Travel & Tourism for-profit plan. The County would maintain control, ownership, and flexibility. It should require little or no county money but it would require a manager for the building. The majority of the tenants would be able to pay fair market rent. This plan needs parking. It could include a plaza and public restrooms. Travel & Tourism would be the anchor tenant. It could include City participation.
This plan involves selling the whole thing or privatizing. Responsibilities would go to the new owner. The County could set some specific restrictions. This plan removes the County and the City from the project. This plan requires no county funds. The developer would get any tax credits.
There is one additional plan available which would be a tax credit option for the County.
Commissioner Kumor stated that we started with the County being in absolute control over the whole process and bearing all the costs to the County having a very minimum amount of control and no investment. She stated again that she and Marilyn were not offering answers but many possibilities. Commissioner Kumor stated that what they=re looking for from City Council is, unless the County chooses Option I which is to go back to the 1995 plan, there are some issues that the County needs to know if the City is willing to work with them on.
Much discussion followed.
Mayor Niehoff mentioned some City/County goals:
C Keep maintenance costs down for the building.
C Best long-term use of the building.
C Protect the building.
Mayor Niehoff said he was fascinated with the idea of a Plaza or Village Square.
Commissioner Moyer stated that these are good options and many, but stated that we need to get going and have a time-line and not delay any longer on this.
Commissioner Gordon stated that 2005 is the 100 year anniversary of the building. She and Commissioner Kumor would like to have the project completed by 2005 for the anniversary.
Each of the two Boards needs some time to review these options and come up with some recommendations and then come back together to discuss the project.
Commissioner Moyer suggested that each Board work through the objectives and then meet jointly again in two months with their Avision@ so that then a plan can begin to be developed.
In answer to some questions raised, Chairman Hawkins stated that in 1995 or early 1996 the County had a plan for the building but things changed. We had a failed School Bond and a critical need for a new Detention Facility. Both these issues were important factors in the County delaying the plans it had for the Historic Courthouse at that time. The funding and the timing of the funding always have to be a big consideration for any of our projects, City or County.
Chairman Hawkins thanked Commissioners Kumor and Gordon for all the hard work they=ve done on the project already. He adjourned the meeting.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board
Grady Hawkins, Chairman