Health site issues solved

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The city took another step Wednesday toward redeveloping the old health department site on North Main Street.

The Economic Development Authority voted to approve two agreements with an adjacent property owner that would resolve a property line issue and allow access to the neighboring Suffolk Specialty Shops, a strip mall that includes a Firehouse Subs, Tropical Smoothie Café and Starbucks, among other stores.

A developer wants to purchase the former health department site at 1217 N. Main St. and build several shops there, including a Panera Bread restaurant and a furniture store.

Email newsletter signup

But before the purchase can take place, the property line must be delineated. According to Gregory Byrd, assistant director of economic development, different interpretations by surveyors as far back as 1917 caused some confusion about where the property line actually is located.

Approval of the agreements on Wednesday was important for some of the lease agreements, Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said.

“We need to act and move forward,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the authority voted to approve an agreement for sharing bond administrative fees with the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority.

The state authority recently was given the power to issue bonds for nonprofit agencies, which puts it in competition with local economic development authorities, which also can issue bonds for such agencies.

Hughes said staff recommended approval of the agreement, while indicating his displeasure.

“I don’t know if we’ll have a party for it,” he said.

EDA members also made it clear they didn’t want to approve the agreement as they gave their votes.

EDA member Art Collins called his vote “a reluctant aye.”