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Business owner makes appeal to HCSA reps

There is an 8,000 square foot building available Halifax business owner Bill Watkins and his wife, Nola, told Halifax County Service Authority (HCSA) representatives Doug Bowman and Major Wray during the public comment part of Halifax Town Council’s monthly meeting Tuesday night. “Nobody approached Nola or Bill Watkins, who have an 8,200 square foot building,” Bill Watkins said. “But nobody came to us and looked at our property.

“It’s been listed with the Halifax County IDA (Industrial Development Authority) board,” he continued. “It’s been listed with Palmer Properties for over a year and a half, and our asking price is $384,026.”

Watkins said the HCSA is paying over $200,000 more for the new building in South Boston. “I have a property for sale in the Town of Halifax on Highway 501,” he said. “It‘s in the third busiest commercial district in the county with almost an acre of land, and there’s an available two acres behind us that could be made into a parking lot that Jeff Henderson owns.”

Watkins asked if the agreement with the South Boston IDA is a done deal and how was that deal made? Bowman said, “Certainly we missed an opportunity.”

Councilman Tom Brown said when the South Boston IDA approached the HCSA, “I would think if you want the best deal out there, you would have asked the Halifax County IDA.”

Bowman replied, saying it was a two-way street, and property owners could have approached the HCSA regarding their properties for sale.

“We could have leased this (Watkins’ building) to you for half of that $72,000, and I would have been a happy camper,” Watkins said. “You would have had everything that I’ve heard here tonight listed on the table.”

When contacted Thursday, HCSA Executive Director Willie Jones said they looked at and considered a number of buildings, including the Watkins’ building, but they did not meet all the HCSA’s requirements.

Jones said the height of roof of the garage area in the building they occupy is an important factor. He said the roof must be tall enough to accommodate the authority’s vacuum jet truck that must be kept inside to keep the truck’s expensive pumps from freezing. Jones explained it costs $8,000 to $10,000 to repair a damaged pump.

“Any building we looked at must have been able to accommodate that,” he said.