News of the offer by Thomas and Evon McClean, who divide their time between Chocowinity and Florida, was made public after city council convened in closed session for the discussions on the matter.
Council in open session unanimously passed a resolution which will require the city publish a notice of the offer and a 10-day upset bid process.
The McCleans, and what was described by the city in a press release as a development group which made the offer, were not present this evening.
City Manager Joseph Scherer said following the meeting, “My understanding is they intend to operate it to put shows on there, develop it as a meeting place, develop it as an attraction and also to conduct internet gaming.”
Councilman Wayne Smith, who made the motion to begin the upset bid process and has been a proponent of selling the venue said, “I feel real good about it. I think the council made a great decision tonight and I think good things will happen in Carolina Crossroads. I think the people who put in the bid will work to develop the property.”
Scherer said the city has been talking with the McCleans for about two to three months.
Asked if he believed the offer was fair, Scherer said, “A piece of property is only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it and what someone is willing to sell it for.’
Background on the McCleans or the development group was not immediately available in the press statement or the resolution.
Scherer said once the city receives the 5 percent down payment from the development group then a notice will be published saying the city has received an offer for $3 million which will start the 10-day upset bid process.
Once the process is set in place, “Anybody can submit a higher bid of at least 5 percent higher than $3 million to us with a 5 percent check for their bid. If they do that, council has the option to start the 10-day upset bid process over. If no other bid is received then at the end of those 10 days council has the option to finally accept the offer or reject it.”
Scherer referred to the press release when asked what drew the panel to the development group. “I believe the statements Mayor (Emery) Doughtie made in the press release kind of reflect council’s feeling that this is a positive economic development opportunity out there and will hopefully lead to further development out there in the entertainment district.”
In the press statement, the city said, “City council is hopeful that they will be able to put the theatre in private hands which could lead to a successful business model for the facility and further development in the Carolina Crossroads and Music Entertainment District as the project was originally intended to accomplish.”
In the press release Doughtie said, “We view the potential sale of the theatre as a positive economic development venture — hat with a professional and dynamic management group providing continuity to theatre activities with a significant financial commitment of their own, we feel this sale will lead to other businesses seeing the district and the city as a profitable place to do business.”
The mayor also said in the statement the potential sale of the venue “will help the city by removing the expense of operating and maintaining a unique and complex facility along with freeing up the resources of both the parks and recreation and public works departments.
“These departments have been heavily committed in their efforts of managing and maintaining the facility, especially while marketing it for sale. Their resources can be redirected to meeting the city’s mission of providing planned, acceptable services to its citizens in a cost-effective manner.”