Study eyes best use for EnergyUnited property

Published 10:07 am Thursday, July 9, 2020

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By Jeanna Baxter White

WordMaster Media

The largest single-owner piece of property in downtown Mocksville will soon be on the market.

EnergyUnited is selling a five-acre tract that starts at Sanford Avenue and Salisbury Street, includes Junker’s Mill Outdoor Theater and the Energy United building, and ends in the West Depot corridor. The utility has given the Davie County Economic Development Commission (DCEDC) the right to purchase the property before it goes on the market.

Recognizing the value of the property for downtown development and expansion, the DCEDC and the Town of Mocksville in March invested $54,000 in a feasibility analysis of the property. The analysis is being conducted by UNC-Chapel Hill Development Finance Initiative (DFI), a division of the School of Government. DFI partners with communities in North Carolina to attract private investment for transformative projects by providing special finance and real estate development expertise. Although the county is not participating in the study, it is collaborating on future plans for the site and will play a role in the final design.

“The chance to purchase a property of this size in the downtown area is a once in a lifetime opportunity and will reshape Mocksville for many years to come,” said Terry Bralley, president of the DCEDC.

Bralley is grateful to EnergyUnited for giving the DCEDC and the town the first option on the property and the opportunity to complete the study before making a decision.

“EnergyUnited continues to be a tremendous partner on our economic development team,” Bralley said. “Davie is home to two of its largest customers in their entire system. The entire community benefits because of their presence in our county.”

Town Manager Matt Settlemyer said the study would give the town an idea of the best use for the property, whether it be public, private, or a combination.

“DFI’s plan will provide a framework for growth that incorporates market forces and will prove to be valuable investment by the Town and EDC,” said Settlemyer.     

In 2019, the town developed a comprehensive plan to guide expansion and revitalization efforts and to create a more lively, pedestrian-friendly destination.

Respondents to a community survey indicated the top four priorities were reuse of old buildings, downtown development, housing, and parks and recreation.

“The Energy United property ties in nicely with our comprehensive plan and vision for the downtown,” Settlemyer said.

Per the town’s comprehensive plan, some potential uses for the property include an indoor event center, farmer’s market, public art gallery and theater, second- and third-story apartments, townhomes and live-work units.

DFI will develop a concept plan for the site based on market analysis, town and stakeholder interests, site limitations and constraints, zoning code, and development costs.

“DFI was hired because our community wants more activity downtown. Activity that includes, among other things, creative commercial and housing choices,” said Settlemyer. “DFI’s process can identify new or overlooked market opportunities. We can then design projects that are locally-supported and attractive to developers and investors who may have never heard of, let alone considered investing in Mocksville.”

Settlemyer said that there will be opportunities for public input later this summer. He expects a final report from DFI this fall.

“We are confident that DFI can facilitate a viable project that aligns public and private interests, maximizes private investment, and minimizes public risk.”