The Ice House

The saga of the Ice House started back on August 4th, 2003.  During that night’s city council meeting (minutes – PDF file), our city staff requested approval to purchase the property on East Market Street.  A site plan was presented that reflected what was in store for the property: an expansion of the adjacent city bus parking facility. (Which is no longer the case).

I was meeting with Preservation Greensoboro’s then-director Heather Seifert that day when she recieved the call that the city was planning to demolish the historic building located on the property, and those plans were on that night’s council agenda.  She immediatley called Guilford County’s head preservationist Julie Curry and the two of them went into battle mode.  I blogged about what occured at that meeting and noted one of the comments made to council by inspections head Butch Simmons, “… the building is beyond repair.”

After three years of neglect, lack of stabilization efforts, owner-sustained damage, and half-hearted marketing efforts by the city, that 2003 opinion – which was questionable then – may now be fact.  Nevertheless, a buyer has come forward to save the building, but his creative ideas and his $300,000 offer-to-purchase have so far been rebuffed.

The story that has developed since I met with City Manager Mitch Johnson and Butch Simmons a couple of weeks ago is a bit complicated and convoluted, but I am going to try to spell it out over the coming week as more information comes in.

The City Council’s 10-day deadline for getting the building demolished has come and gone and I am grateful for the city’s forebearance.  I get the sense that Mitch Johnson really does want to save the building as long as the taxpayers don’t lose their shirt in the process.  We’ll find out if that is true – because there is a way - however, the Ice House’s future could very likely come down to another vote by our Council which will test their preservationist mettle.

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