Residents raise questions about vacant commercial property that held hope

Last month a sign advertising the lease and sale of office space at Premier Park appeared seemingly overnight. The business park has only had one tenant since 2004.

Residents raise questions about vacant commercial property that held hope
May 12
13:30 2016

Photo by Tevin Stinson

East Winston business park rarely used over past 10 years



When construction began on 2285 Premier Park Lane in early 2000, residents who live in the East Winston community thought the business park located just off East 14th Street, near New Walkertown Road, would draw business ventures to a neighborhood in dire need of rejuvenation.

More than a decade since the buildings first appeared near the Aegis Family Health Center Plaza and the Delta Fine Arts Center, the only thing new and exciting the property has seen is the brightly colored graffiti that appears on the light-colored walls from time to time.

Construction first began on the first of two 2,350-square-foot buildings in 2004. A third 3,200-square-foot building was added in 2009. Over the years, Premier Park Lane has only had one tenant. The N.C. Department of Transportation made use of the space for a short stint in 2011 before relocating.

A number of residents told The Chronicle that when the business park was first built, they assumed something that would benefit the community would be put there. One of those residents is Margretta Key, who has lived on the 2000 block of East 14th Street for more than 30 years.  She said a few years ago, talks began to surface of a restaurant moving into one of the vacant buildings, but those talks quietly went away.

“It’s really disheartening to see the space go to waste,” she continued, “especially when this neighborhood is lacking in so many areas.”

Lauren Johnson said that she is not surprised that no one has felt the need to invest in the business park or the East Winston community. She said, “For some reason, people just don’t feel the need to invest in our community. This is nothing new.”

According to business owners, one issue with acquiring space in Premier Park in the past was the price. In 2012, the property was listed for $1,100,000, which is equivalent to $220 per square foot.

During that time, the lot was owned by First Mount Vernon Industrial Association (FMVIA), a mortgage broker company based in Alexandria, Virginia. Court records show the company, which was founded in 1994, has been on the wrong end of a number of accusations, including fraud and exclusion of evidence. Attempts to contact FMVIA were unsuccessful.

Looking toward the future 

Although all three buildings remain empty today, that all could be changing in coming months. In recent weeks, a new sign advertising the property for sale and lease appeared next to the vacant buildings.

It is believed that a drop in the asking price has led to more local business owners looking into acquiring space in the business park. Last February, the price of the property was $485,000; another price drop in September put the property at $425,000. The fact that the property is in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) may be part of the growth in interest as well.

HUBZone was enacted into law as part of the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997. The program is an effort by both the U.S. Small Business Administration and Congress to promote economic development and employment growth in distressed areas, by providing access to more federal contracting opportunities.

According to the Meridian Realty Group, a local commercial real estate brokerage company, they have received a number of calls and emails from people in the community interested in the property

John Ruffin, a certified commercial investment member (CCIM) at Meridian, noted that because the property is currently under contract, his company is unable now to discuss any of the deals that have been presented.

“Given its current status, I am not able to comment until the first of June,” Ruffin said.

Without discussing the has potential,” he said, “for not only improving the area but our entire city.”

While talks about the property continue to heat up, residents say they will have to see it to believe it.

“It all sounds good, but until I see something move into the buildings, I don’t believe it,”  Johnson said when she saw the new sign.

“That’s what I’m waiting to see. We’ve been waiting a long time.”

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