CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Urban Renewal Authority board members will hold a special meeting Wednesday to consider a developer's offer to buy a CURA-owned site near the Garnet Career Center.
In a related measure, CURA board members will consider a proposal to amend the Shrewsbury/Smith Street Urban Renewal Plan's land-use plan, to allow residential construction on the site -- a small city block bounded by Dickinson, Lewis, Shrewsbury and Christopher streets. The existing plan calls for office or commercial redevelopment there, CURA Director Jim Edwards said.
CURA board members agreed to advertise the property for redevelopment earlier this month after a developer told Edwards the firm was interested in it. By law, CURA can't sell property without first advertising for development proposals.
Edwards refused to identify the developer, citing the advice of his lawyer. The developer was the only responder by the deadline Friday afternoon.
CURA bought the 0.69-acre site at least 20 years ago and tore down all structures that were on it, Edwards said. In recent years, it has served as a parking lot for the Garnet center.
Over the years, CURA has accumulated several properties in and around downtown, but has not aggressively tried to market them. That changed after Edwards took over as director about a year ago.
"We've had all our properties surveyed, the most important ones appraised, and the main thing is we posted for-sale signs," he said. "The interest of the agency is to get the properties back into production, not to hold them indefinitely.
"Activity in real estate is picking up. Locally, we're getting a lot more inquiries. Now, how much of that is from an improving economy or from the 4- by 8-foot signs on all our properties is hard to say.
"The other thing we've done which is significant through the downtown planning process, we've asked the planning consultants to create development concepts for our four downtown properties," he said. "All are parking lots. It's kind of hard to visualize a development without a 3-D model."
Because of interest last year in the Holley/Worthy hotel site on Quarrier Street, the consultants developed a conceptual model for that property first, Edwards said.