Winnsboro Council looking to rehab former dry cleaning store

Town hopes to rehab this neglected downtown building. | Martha Ladd

WINNSBORO – As part of its burgeoning downtown redevelopment efforts, the Winnsboro town council voted to place an option on the property located at 201 N. Congress Street in downtown Winnsboro. The 5-0 vote, taken during Tuesday night’s council meeting, also approved a $10,000 purchase agreement for the property.

“The building on the property housed a dry cleaners that has not been in operation for 30 years,” according to Assistant Town Manager Chris Clausen. Because the building is in disrepair, Clausen was in the process of discussing code enforcement with the property owner who, Clausen said, showed a willingness to sell the property to the town.

Because of the prospect that the property could be contaminated from the dry cleaning process, Town Administrator Jason Taylor asked council to put an option on the property to secure it while an environmental consultant examines the property for contamination.

According to Clausen, the vote approved putting down $500 to secure the option and to approve a $10,000 sales price on the property. 

Should the environmental study be so unfavorable that the Town decides against purchasing the property, McMeekin said the Town would only be out $500 of the $1,000 option money.

“There are revolving loan funds available at the federal and state level that could provide dollars to remediate any contaminants that might be found at the site,” Clausen said. “These are funds available to the Town that are not usually afforded to most private individuals.  While the property is secured with the $500 option, we will be able to move forward with the cleanup and hopefully turn the property into something a lot more viable,” he said.

“On the flip side of that,” Taylor said, “we don’t want to spend a lot of time and work, then not have the property under control where we can close on it should we want to.  We don’t want to do all this and then have it snatched out from under us and be sold to someone else. 

“The ultimate goal is to get the property off the tax rolls of dilapidated looking buildings,” McMeekin said, “and, hopefully, clean it up so that it will be attractive for the Town.”

Councilman Danny Miller asked Taylor what his suggested purpose is for the building,

“As it sits now, it’s an eyesore and is not productive,” Taylor said. “We either want it to not be an eyesore or be productive.  We have not determined 100 percent which it would be.  Some due diligence must be done first to determine what could be done with the property.  But we do want to clean it up and get it productive again,” he said.

“We don’t want to get into something we can’t get out of, so we want to check it out very carefully,” McMeekin said. “If we feel like it’s something we can clean up with government funds – even if it’s resold – we will be contributing to the grander scheme of getting the entire Town fixed up.”

Barbara Ball contributed to this story.

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