UNION COUNTY — A building that once housed a mainstay of Main Street in downtown Union is a step closer to once again playing a meaningful role in the local economy as commercial property such as a restaurant and as housing for students attending USC Union.
Union County Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve third and final reading of an ordinance transferring ownership of the old From Building at 101 West Main Street in downtown Union to 101 W. Main, LLC which will renovate and redevelop the property.
The From Building gets its name from “Harry From’s,” the retail clothing business it housed for decades. The store, which was a mainstay of the downtown business community, has been closed and the building unused for many years. Prior to Thursday’s vote it was owned by the county which has been seeking to have it redeveloped.
During a public hearing preceding the vote, Supervisor Frank Hart, in response to questions from those in attendance, said that the developer the county is selling the property to has said he believes he can renovate the upstairs of the building to serve as housing for six USC Union students and the downstairs as commercial space. Hart said that under the terms of the agreement, the upstairs must serve as housing for USC Union students for at least 10 years, after which the developer would have the option of repurposing the upstairs. He said he hoped that by the time those 10 years are up, things will have changed on Main Street to the point where the developer will see it is in his interest to continue having the upstairs serve as student housing.
As for the commercial space in the downstairs, Hart was asked if it would be used by a restaurant and if the developer had one lined up for it. Hart said that while the developer had spoke about the space being most likely used for that purpose, he did not have a restaurant lined up to go in there at the present time.
The ordinance states that the county seeks to enter into a Development Agreement with 101 W. Main, LLC in order to facilitate the redevelopment of the property. It states that “upon transfer of ownership” of the property, the county “shall have no direct involvement, ownership, or liability associated with the building. The sole role of Union County shall be to verify that 101 W. Main, LLC meets its obligations under the Development Agreement.”
Hart said that the goal of selling the property is to turn it over for private development which would get back on the tax rolls as an asset to the community. He said that if the developer is successful in doing this, he will retain ownership of the property. If, however, he is not able to meet the requirements of the agreement with the county, he will have to pay the county $20,000 which Hart said is equivalent to the current value of the building.
“It’s a win-win,” Hart said.
Spec Building Expansion
In other business, council also voted unanimously to approve second reading of an ordinance authorizing the sale and conveyance of property owned by Union County to KG Plus, LLC as part of the expansion of spec building in Commerce Park.
When council approved first reading of the ordinance in August, Hart said the transfer was requested by KG Plus, LLC because the facility has already been expanded to the limits of the property and more space is needed. Hart said at the time that the ordinance is designed to facilitate the ongoing expansion of the spec building in Union Commerce Park by allowing KG Plus, LLC to add square footage to the existing building.
Council voted unanimously in September 2016 to sell the spec building to Agracel Inc. of Effingham, Illinois for $1,528,890 with the county clearing $69,414.44 from the sale.
When the sale of the spec building was announced earlier that year, Hart said that it was part of the county’s strategy of getting the site ready for industrial development. Agracel, which was founded in 1986, specializes in up-fitting buildings for manufacturing and has developed over 12 million square feet of industrial space in 17 states.
At the time of the sale, the site, which is located at 2 LSP Drive in the Union Commerce Park off US 176, included the 60,000 square foot building itself, an adjacent 60,000 square-foot building pad, and an additional 45,000 square feet of open land. The pad and the additional land are there to accommodate any potential industrial expansion that may occur.
When it was sold, the property had all the necessary utilities including power, water, sewer, and gas for industrial development and ready access to US 176. The building itself, however, was an empty shell with a dirt floor which Hart said made it easier for Agracel to develop the facility as it saw fit.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.