Red and White to learn its fate Monday

ajames@newsobserver.comDecember 13, 2013 

The Old Red and White building might be demolished; the Clayton Town Council will decide Monday

AMANDA JAMES — ajames@newsobserver.com

— After dodging the wrecking ball for a year, the dilapidated Red and White grocery store building on Front Street could get a death sentence on Monday.

Or it could win another reprieve.

The Town Council will decide whether to demolish the building, which remains an eyesore despite a plan to revive it.

For tax-base purposes, the town would prefer to see the building restored and occupied, said Town Manager Steve Biggs. But the town cannot continue to allow the building to deteriorate, he said.

“It is more financially viable to the town to renovate it, but it has become a public safety and health hazard,” Biggs said.

The building, at 110 W. Front St., once housed a popular grocery store. But the building has been vacant for about 10 years, with boarded up windows and a roof that’s collapsing.

Neighbors say they are reluctant to walk near the building, fearing it will collapse.

Biggs said the council granted the building reprieves because it hoped someone would to step up and renovate the space. It also felt sympathy for elderly owner Katie Smith of Sneads Ferry, who was unaware a former tenant had let the building fall into disrepair because of his own failing health. The building was an investment for Smith, and if the town had demolished it, it would have spoiled the investment.

“It was of no fault of her own that it fell into disrepair,” Biggs said.

Now a man has come forward with plans to renovate the building. Randy Messick of Clayton says he wants to turn the space into a grocery store.

But Messick has been slow to show the town he has the financial backing to pull off the renovation.

“I still want to carry out the project, and I’m confident it will happen,” he said.

Messick said he has drawn up a contract to purchase the property from Smith. He said he plans to use mostly his own money to pay for renovations. Messick owns a company that does utility work, so it will be able to take on some of the repairs.

“It’s really a more simple project than what people think,” Messick said.

It would start by repairing the roof, which is sagging because of failing support columns.

Messick says the renovation project could begin next year.

On Monday, he will learn whether the Town Council will give him that chance.

James: 919-553-7234

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