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Spotsy EDA explores sale of Southpoint office building

The Spotsylvania County Economic Development Authority is taking steps to sell a building it owns at Southpoint I in Massaponax at the urging of the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors this week voted 5–2 to request that the EDA look into selling the roughly 8,500-square-foot space, which it purchased in 2001. The building currently houses the Spotsylvania Visitor Center, an insurance firm, a regional agency and office space for entrepreneurs.

The property is assessed at almost $1.3 million.

Supervisors Benjamin Pitts and Gary Skinner voted against selling the building.

EDA members, who are appointed by supervisors, discussed the issue in closed session at their monthly meeting Thursday. They then voted to publish a request for information to solicit interest from potential buyers.

“We’re just hoping to gather information from potential users of the building so that we can make a better decision on what to do with it later,” said EDA Chairman Hart Rutherford.

The EDA may look at other ways to use the space if nobody is interested in buying it, members said.

Supervisor Timothy McLaughlin, who brought up the sale of the building unannounced at a meeting Tuesday, says he’s “not a big fan” of the government owning commercial property.

“That puts us in direct competition with local businessmen,” he said. “That’s not the right way to do business.”

He says the EDA-owned property is losing money for the county, including about $11,000 in real estate taxes that a private owner would pay.

Meanwhile, Pitts said that supervisors voted on the issue without having all the facts. He said he didn’t hear any valid reason why the board couldn’t wait for county staff to research and write a report on the matter.

“It seemed like certain board members received information on the issue, and that information wasn’t provided to the full board,” Pitts said in an email.

A spreadsheet a county official recently provided to The Free Lance–Star projects $7,129 in annual revenue from the building. That estimate includes potential leases that are expected to be signed soon.

The Mason Enterprise Center previously leased office space at the EDA-owned building, but it closed at the end of March. That facility enabled small businesses to lease offices and have access to classes, consulting, mentorship and counseling services provided by George Mason University.

McLaughlin notes that $33,000 of the property’s annual income is money the county pays to lease the Visitor Center space.

“It’s cooking the books,” he said.

He said he thinks the Visitor Center should be moved to a county-owned building in the Historic Courthouse area.

Or, he said, the county could lease space at a high-traffic location near State Route 3. Rent would likely cost a lot more at such a spot.

Spotsylvania’s EDA isn’t the only one in the area looking to sell property.

In Stafford, the Board of Supervisors plans to transfer ownership of two county-owned office properties to its EDA. It wants the EDA to sell the buildings and expects the proceeds to fund the organization for the next three years.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402

jbranscome@freelancestar.com

 

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