Old buildings' futures remain hot topic

Staff Writer
Posted 7/23/21

Commissioners give owners until mid-September to address properties' issues

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Old buildings' futures remain hot topic


Owners of two iconic downtown district buildings have until September to devise a plan of action regarding their specific properties.

Kenansville attorney Joseph Ezzell represented T&C Strategic Properties, LLC, during the board of commissioners’ meeting last week. The company owns the deteriorating old Center Street Theatre.

Jose Parent, owner of the fire-ravaged Kraft building, and Mr. and Mrs. James Dove, who own a historic two-story home at 107 N. Chestnut St., did not attend the meeting.

Town attorney W. Carroll Turner notified all three property owners by registered mail to appear before the board and explain the possible futures of their respective properties.

Ezzell gave the board a letter from an engineer, who reportedly inspected the deteriortating theatre and determined it was structurally sound.

The owner denied inside access to Mount Olive building inspector Justin Hill, who flew a drone over the building and took pictures of a collapsed roof that has become a safety issue in recent years.

Turner reminded the commissioners that bricks had fallen from the top of the structure and nearly struck pedestrians below.

The owners made some repairs after that complaint, but have done nothing since.

During the 2019 N.C. Pickle Festival, the area was cordoned off because of safety concerns.

Town officials say they consider the buildings “eyesores” and “thorns in their side” during attempts to beautifty and revitalize the downtown district. Turner said, if necessary, he’d obtain a warrant to have the theatre inspected by Hill.

The owners of the three properties were granted 60 days to devise a plan of action and present it to the board during its Sept. 12 meeting.


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