‘I think it’s a pretty good real estate deal for the community, for the city, and for the citizens’: Mayor talks about potential purchase of Thermo Fisher property
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The City of Wilmington is considering purchasing the Thermo Fisher building in Downtown Wilmington.
“The city for the last 14 years has been doing a significant amount of assessment on their space needs,” Mayor Bill Saffo said.
Saffo said they’ve considered updating their building on Chestnut Street, but it doesn’t financially make sense.
“So, we say, well, let’s put that on hold. You know, there’s no way that we’re going to spend 90 to $95 million,” Saffo added.
Right now, city employees are spread out between eight different buildings, including Parks & Recreation and administration, just to name a few. The potential move would bring everyone under one roof. That’s part of the reason why Saffo says a $68 million purchase of the Thermo Fisher building would make sense.
“Just the land alone is pretty valuable, not including what’s already up there, currently. So, it’s got a tax value of about $141 million. "
He said they would sell their current buildings and around three acres of land they would acquire with the new purchase for other developments.
“So, the eight properties that we have would be put up for sale for redevelopment, as well as a portion of the three acres that we would purchase, which is on the north end, for redevelopment purposes. And with that money, we would reduce the debt that we would have acquired to get it. So we think from a monetary point of view, it’s a great deal.”
Saffo added that the more than 1,000 parking spaces can be used for Riverfront Park concerts and events.
“One of the things that we’ve been talking about here in the last two to three years is additional parking up in the north end. We have obviously the Riverfront Park, that’s become a roaring success. And we’ve got more concert dates coming, we’ve got more development that’s happening up on the north end. So, the pressure for us to build an additional parking facility was there. This solves that particular issue for the city of Wilmington,” Saffo said. “It takes care of our space needs, takes care of our parking needs up on the north end, not only for the city of Wilmington but also for redevelopment purposes and for the concerts. And it also takes care of another significant thing that we’ve been working on last couple of years as security for our buildings, the world has changed in regards to how we secure our buildings for the people that work in these buildings, the IT that we’re having to put into these buildings and retrofit these buildings for the upgrade that we need as a government to serve the cloud, it serves a lot of particular needs.”
The unused portion of the building would be rented out, which is estimated to be about half of the building.
“We’re going to be asking a lot of questions. This 120-day period will give us an opportunity as a city. And the state wants to chime in on this with the local government commission to ask a lot of the questions that a lot of people will share with us, as well as questions that the local government commission will have for the City of Wilmington in regard to the purchase of this property. So, we think is an exciting opportunity,” Saffo said.
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