Clayton residents have at least 30 days to bid adieu to the former Red and White grocery store at 110 W. Front St. A divided Town Council on Monday voted 4-1 to raze the rundown building.
More than a decade ago, the Red and White was a popular destination for Clayton grocery shoppers. Now, it is a dilapidated eyesore.
“It’s a safety issue, and we have just let it go on, I think, far too long,” said Councilman Michael Grannis said. “I don’t know how many postponements we’ve had, but I know it’s been more than six.”
Eighteen months ago, townspeople noticed the roof on the abandoned building had started to sag and the awning had fallen into disrepair. Thus began a push to renovate and save the building.
No one could have guessed how long the process would last.
At Monday’s Town Council meeting, Grannis made the motion to demolish the building despite pleas and promises from developer Randy Messick, who has worked since October to get the building ready for renovation. Messick applied for a work permit, lined up engineers from Tyndall Engineering and Design in Garner, and even put a fresh layer of white paint on the store front.
But it wasn’t enough. The council had been waiting on a list of other documents Messick never produced.
In December, the council gave Messick his marching orders: show proof of financial backing by Jan. 22 and begin renovations by Feb. 1. It also requested a complete set of renovation plans by Feb. 3. Messick did not produce the plans or proof that he was buying the building from owner Katie Smith of Sneads Ferry.
He was also supposed to have documentation that proved he had removed any asbestos in the roof. He did not produce that on Monday.
“He told us he would have all this stuff ready to go by this meeting, and he had nothing,” Councilman Bob Satterfield said.
Still, the decision grieved council members like Satterfield, who said: “I would hate to see the building torn down. It’s part of Clayton.”
On social media, residents also expressed their grief at the loss of the building.
But council members said they had to put safety above nostalgia and thought they had given Messick enough time to act.
“We have just bent over backwards, because we want him to do something; we want to see a business there,” Satterfield said.
Councilman Art Holder voted against demolishing the building, saying the council should give Messick more time.
“We should have given him another couple weeks,” Holder said. “I think he could get it done. If I thought he couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t have voted against it.”
Messick and the owner, Smith, have 30 days to appeal the council’s decision to Superior Court. Messick assured the council on Monday that he planned to do so.
“It’s very sad, but when you have a public safety concern, it unfortunately trumps the nostalgia and the desire to save a beloved town landmark,” said Stacy Beard, the town’s public information officer.
Messick declined to comment on the council’s decision