County plans to purchase former Lexcom building
BY VIKKI BROUGHTON HODGES
Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 10:18 p.m.
The Davidson County Board of Commissioners took a step toward planning for county growth as the board agreed to proceed with the purchase of the former Lexcom building on State Street and also approved several proposals related to economic development at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.
With little discussion, the board unanimously voted in favor of proceeding with the acquisition of what is known as the Lexington Telephone Co. building at 200 N. State Street in the central business district of Lexington and a nearly three-quarters of an acre tract across the street, currently used as a parking lot, for $400,000.
The property adjoins other property owned by the county, including the courthouse and jail. The property is owned by Little Rock, Ark.-based Windstream Corp., which acquired Lexcom Communications, formerly Lexington Telephone Co., in 2009. Windstream didn't need the former corporate headquarters office and put in on the market soon after the acquisition.
County Attorney Chuck Frye said the county and Windstream had an agreement in principle on the purchase and the county would have 90 days for due diligence before closing on the transaction.
After a required public hearing, the commissioners also approved a rezoning request that will allow a Lexington children's clothing company, Lolly Wolly Doodle, to grow and add jobs.
The board voted to rezone property at 1120 Piedmont Drive from Highway Commercial, and a small adjoining tract from Rural Agricultural 3, to Limited Industrial to accommodate the company's plan to relocate its on-site manufacturing from a smaller space on Leonard Avenue in Lexington to what is known as the Graham Building, which is near the Davidson County Fairgrounds and another business, Davidson Sash and Door.
The rezoning had been recommended by the county planning and zoning board. The commissioners already approved a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant application for the company, which will match that amount to upfit the building and add equipment.
The largely web-based company, specializing in personalized monogrammed children's wear and accessories, currently has 35 employees. As part of the requirements from the CDBG grant and through economic development incentives commissioners approved for the company in September, Lolly Wolly Doodle has pledged to create an additional 38 jobs within the next two years and retain those jobs for an additional three years.
After a closed session, the board also set Dec. 13 for a public hearing for county incentives for Johnson Concrete to expand in Lexington, at the request of Steve Googe, executive director of the Davidson County Economic Development Commission. Johnson Concrete, which has 37 employees now, would add five additional jobs over the next five years and make a $1.2 million investment in equipment to meet the standard incentive formula used by the county. The city is also expected to consider incentives.
In another economic development issue, the commissioners also approved a fuel rebate program for airplanes based at the Davidson County Airport in an effort to attract more hangar tenants and increase fuel purchases. The annual cash rebates would be offered to those planes based and housed in airport hangars and listed for property taxes in the county and would be based on the amount of fuel purchased at the airport and partially based on the value of the plane. Lexington, which shares ownership with the county of the airport, is also expected to take up the rebate issue at a future meeting.
Commissioner Billy Joe Kepley also appealed to his fellow commissioners to consider a resolution at a future meeting in opposition to changing the name of Interstate 85 Business Loop back to Highway 29-70, which they agreed to do once the county attorney drafts a resolution. He said the name change proposal came up at the High Point Metropolitan Planning Organization.
"I don't see the need for it — it's a waste," Kepley said, adding the cost of the signage change alone should stop the proposal. He also said it would cost businesses located on the highway a lot of money to make the change as well as confuse travelers, thus hurting tourism promotion.
"I think there's going to be a reconsideration," he added, but noted it would be good to get local government boards on the record as being opposed to the proposed change.
In other business, the board heard an update from Jeff Smith, director of Davidson County Emergency Services, about the damage caused by a tornado in the central Davidson area Nov. 16.
Smith said the county is still assessing damage but at this point 75 homes sustained damage and 27 have been declared destroyed, including eight mobile homes. He said all power has been restored to the area and all roads are clear, although they are congested with construction crews and "sightseers." He noted a Disaster Recovery Center has been set up at the Silver Valley Fire Department.
Chairman Sam Watford praised Smith and all involved county employees for their response to the storm.
Vikki Broughton Hodges can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 214, or at email@example.com.