FRONT ROYAL – The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority has sold the former Stokes Mart building at 506 E. Main St., a property EDA Executive Douglas Parsons said the authority should have never owned.
"It's just not the type of building any economic development authority should be investing in. We feel it belongs in the hands of the private sector," Parsons said.
On Tuesday, the private sector took over the building when it was sold to James Weber and East Main Commercial LLC for $190,000.
The EDA purchased the building, along with a nearby apartment complex, for $398,218 from former Warren County Supervisor Bernard Stokes’ trust in 2015.
Parsons said he believes Weber plans on renovating the building. The future tenant is unknown, as Parsons said Weber will entertain offers after the building is fixed.
The sale comes as the EDA is nearing insolvency and requesting county assistance in the upcoming fiscal year to maintain operations.
The Stokes Mart sale, Parsons said, immediately saves the EDA about $14,000 annually in insurance and utilities.
Parsons said that, “for the sake of the taxpayers,” the EDA is taking every action possible to “trim our cost and trim our budget” and the authority is “especially grateful” to Weber.
“Thank you to Mr. Weber for his investment in downtown Front Royal. We’re excited to see the renovations that he has planned for the building,” Parsons said.
The EDA cannot pay off the loan on the building, however, until the apartment building is also sold. Once that happens, Parsons said the EDA will save an additional $2,173 per month.
He added that the EDA is working with a potential buyer of the apartments, and a deal may be finalized within three weeks if everything goes smoothly.
Parsons said the warehouse at 426 Baugh Drive – for which the county pays $22,450 in monthly debt service - is next on his wish list of properties to sell.
For that property, he said the EDA is pursuing two paths. Ideally, he said, the long-term solution would see a major employer purchasing the building and creating tax revenue for the county. He added that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the EDA is exploring leasing the building for short-term storage to help relieve costs associated with it sitting empty.