Town Council votes to offer Smithfield Times building for sale

Published 11:23 am Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Smithfield’s Town Council voted unanimously on July 1 to solicit sealed bids to purchase the town-owned Smithfield Times office at 228 Main St.

The town acquired the 3,300-square-foot building in 2020 from Times Publisher Emeritus John Edwards and currently leases a portion of the building to Smithfield Newsmedia, which publishes the Times, Slice of Smithfield magazine and related digital products. Smithfield Newsmedia owner Steve Stewart purchased the newspaper, but not the real estate, from Edwards in 2019. 

The oldest section of the building dates to 1950.

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The town had planned at the time of its purchase to renovate the building into additional space for its government offices, but later determined the plan “wasn’t feasible,” according to Town Manager Michael Stallings.

“The decision to not pursue renovations of the Times building was made a while ago,” Stallings said. “We are still evaluating our options and determining the best and most efficient way to meet the town’s space needs.”

The town, according to Stallings, has sufficient space between the three-story town hall located adjacent to the Times on Institute Street and the building housing the manager’s office adjacent to the police station on South Church Street, just over a mile away, but still “would like to consolidate our offices to make it easier for staff to interact and work together,” Stallings said.

Bids for the Times building are due July 31 at 3 p.m. and will be opened publicly at 4 p.m. that day, according to the invitation for sealed bids. Isle of Wight County collectively valued the building and quarter-acre lot at $397,000 during its 2023 reassessment of property values, according to the property’s listing on the county GIS tax map.

Stallings said the town also had the property independently appraised recently but “will not be sharing the outcome of the appraisal at this time as it may negatively impact the sealed bid process.”

Bids, according to the invitation, “should include the bidder’s highest and best offer for the property as well as a description of the proposed use for the property.”

The town will reserve a permanent easement on the front lawn of the property and the 37-foot-wide Main Street Square stage where the Isle of Wight Arts League and the Times host the Downtown Smithfield Summer Concert Series on Friday evenings, the invitation states.

As required by state law, a public hearing will be held before a vote to sell the building. The hearing date has not been set.

According to the invitation, the town will evaluate all bids based on the purchase price offered and will also consider the “highest and best use of the property.” The invitation stipulates the Town Council has the right to reject any or all bids without reason.