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Houses around chancellor's residence to be demolished if not relocated

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601 E. Fifth St. on June 10, 2016. (Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector)

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Shannon Keith

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Unless interested buyers can be found, five houses in Greenville’s College View Historic District will be demolished to make way for a planned expansion of the ECU chancellor’s residence. 

Earlier this month, ECU submitted certificate of appropriateness (COA) applications to demolish — or relocate if possible — five houses that surround the chancellor’s house at 603 E. Fifth St.

Collette Kinane, a city planner with the Community Development Department, said a COA approves exterior work done on buildings within a city’s historic district, including windows, doors, paint colors, materials, rooflines, gutters, fences and yards. COAs also must be issued if a home within a historical district is moved or demolished.

“This is to insure that the historical integrity of the district is maintained,” Kinane said.

The Greenville Historic Preservation Commission will discuss ECU’s applications during its meeting on June 28. Kinane said the commission has two options: immediately approve the application or delay it for up to one year. The commission cannot deny the request.

The university purchased four of the properties — 404 S. Jarvis St., 405 S. Summit St., 407 S. Summit St. and 409 S. Summit St. — in 2014 through the ECU Real Estate Foundation, an intermediary it uses to expedite the process of purchasing property. The university has owned the house at 601 E. Fifth St. since 2007.

The ECU Real Estate Foundation purchased the homes, previously used as rental property, for a total of $1.16 million. According to the Pitt County Online Parcel Information System (OPIS), the tax value for all of the homes was about $530,000, more than $670,000 less than the purchase price.

“The purchase price was significantly higher than the tax value,” Kinane said.

Rick Niswander, ECU’s vice chancellor of administration and finance, said in a 2014 article about the purchase of the properties that the university would purchase the homes from the Real Estate Foundation and that the funds would come from private donations.

“We don’t buy our properties with either appropriations or taxpayer money,” Niswander said.

After the homes are removed or demolished, the university plans to use the five properties to expand the chancellor’s residence, which sits on 0.85 acre and has 6,323 square feet, according to OPIS. According to ECU’s COA application, ECU wants to “improve the security surrounding the residence and to prepare for a future expansion of the residence and grounds to make the property more suitable for a chancellor’s residence.”

Possible plans for the expansion include:

* The addition of a kitchen large enough to provide catering for events;

* Making the residence handicap-accessible;

* Providing additional parking;

* Expanding the grounds to provide a garden space for hosting events.

Since ECU has not issued a timetable for the project, Kinane said delaying the issue of a COA for one year should not interfere with the university’s plans for the property. 

“The city is recommending that the Historic Preservation Commission delays the COAs for one year,” Kinane said. ”This will allow time to perhaps find interested buyers that can have the houses moved.”

If the Historic Preservation Commission delays the COA for a year, Kinane said the city, ECU and the State Historic Preservation Office will collaborate to find ways to market the houses for anyone interested in relocating them.

“They could go up for bidding,” she said. “If someone has available land, they could definitely be relocated.”

Kinane said her office or the State Historic Preservation Office can help interested buyers research potential bids.

“There are a lot of factors to consider,” she said. ”But I would think any reasonable bid would be preferable to demolishing the houses.”

Kinane said anyone interested in learning more can attend the Historic Preservation Commission’s meeting on June 28. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in Room 337 of City Hall, 200 W. Fifth St. The meeting is open to the public.

 

Contact Shannon Keith at skeith@reflector.com and 329-9575

 

Property purchases

• 404 S. Jarvis St.

Tax value - $111,385

Purchase price - $175,000

• 405 S. Summit St.

Tax value - $105,839

Purchase price - $290,000

• 407 S. Summit St.

Tax value - $159,109

Purchase price - $320,000

• 405 S. Summit St.

Tax value - $153,927

Purchase price - $375,000

 

Information is from the Pitt County Online Parcel Information System.

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