Town buys Times building

Published 7:07 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2020

By Diana McFarland


The Town of Smithfield is the new owner of The Smithfield Times building and property at 228 Main St. 

The deal with John and Anne Edwards closed Thursday, March 5, with a purchase price of $425,000, according to interim Smithfield Town Manager Sanford “Sandy” Wanner. The 3,114-square-foot building was recently assessed at $308,300, according to Isle of Wight County property records.  

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“For several years, Anne and I have been asked repeatedly what would happen to the gazebo and the concerts when we retired. The property has become an informal ‘town square’ during the past three decades and we are delighted that the town has purchased it and thus ensured its continued use by the public,” said Edwards.

“The concerts have been scheduled for this year, and there will be more of them than ever,”  he added. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The sale of the building follows the sale of the newspaper to Smithfield Newsmedia LLC, a company formed by new Publisher Steve Stewart, on Nov. 1 of last year. 

Stewart’s company is leasing a third of the building for the newspaper offices for 90 days, with automatic 30-day extensions until either party terminates the lease. The lease is $1,200 a month. 

“We appreciate the cooperative spirit of town officials and John Edwards in ensuring that the sale of the building had no adverse impact on the newspaper and our operations,” Stewart said. “The ability to stay right where we are on a short-term basis allows us to have an orderly search for a new home. We are exploring several good options in the heart of the historic district.

“While our office will be in a new location at some point soon, The Smithfield Times is committed to being an anchor institution in the core business district. We will work hard to pay our civic rent, including continued support of iconic events such as the concert series. While we will be sad to leave our longtime home when the time comes, the move will not change our commitment to excellent journalism for the people of Isle of Wight and Surry counties.” 

The town doesn’t have specific plans for the building at this time, but Wanner said he is developing a five-year capital improvement plan, which will include the renovation of the building to provide office space for some yet undecided town use. 

There are no cost estimates for that renovation at this time, said Wanner. 

The property also includes a green space that fronts Main Street, as well as the gazebo stage, which is used for a variety of community events, particularly the annual Smithfield Summer Concert Series. It is located near the town hall on Institute Street. {/mprestriction}