NC still lacks system to track unused state-owned properties

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A rundown state owned building in downtown Raleigh is highlighting the need for the state to deal with its abandoned and unused property.

It’s an ongoing issue CBS 17 has been following for years and it is without an easy fix. 

The building at 114 W. Morgan sits right next to the secretary of state’s office.

It was built in 1956 and once housed JC’s Luncheonette which went out of business in October 1985.

Records CBS 17 pulled show the state purchased it one month later in November 1985 for $33,000.

“I was frustrated to see this is a state owned building which has been unused, dilapidated, rundown and would be a code violation if anyone in the private sector owned it,” said Sen. Andy Wells (R-Catawba).

The senator was so frustrated he wrote a blog post about it.

The building sits in the heart of our government center – about a block from the state capitol and right next door to the building which houses the secretary of state’s office.

It is one of 12,000 buildings worth more than $26 billion that the state owns.

But no one is keeping track of them.

“There is no evidence we have a process in place that will deal with a 20—30 year real estate decision,” said Wells.

Wells filed a bill last session calling for a review of state owned property in downtown Raleigh.

It ended up in committee.

It’s not the first time efforts like that have failed.

In May 2017, CBS 17 tracked state efforts from 2003 to create a system to track and sell surplus property.

Year after year efforts went nowhere.

Finally in 2017, a bill was passed making it law for the Department of Administration to keep track of those properties.

At the time, CBS 17 was told the DoA hoped to have that database ready by the end of 2017 but try and find it.

“I’m not aware of anything. I’ve been unable to find a data base of real estate,” said Wells.

The Department Of Administration tells CBS 17 the database has not been created yet.

Spokeswoman Nan Sanseverino says the agency is “continuing to work toward establishing a comprehensive database of existing state properties, including surplus property,” and hopes lawmakers provide “adequate resources for this project to be completed.”

She says the agency also wants “funding to conduct a long-range master plan of state buildings and properties in the capital area” and says “The Department of Administration is taking a fresh look at state properties in Raleigh, Wake County, and statewide.”

She says DOA intends to use “a comprehensive, coordinated approach to evaluating and managing these state resources – one that considers the property’s current status, purpose or potential, community implications, history/orientation and associated costs.”

With billions of dollars’ worth of abandoned or underused state property out there, Wells says we must do better watching taxpayers money.

“We need some kind of commission or board or some kind of long term organization in place to oversee a vast amount of resources that are grossly underutilized,” he said.

As for the building at 114 W. Morgan St, Wells says it’s probably going to stays like it is for a while longer until the legislature makes it a priority to deal with the situation.

And he also thinks the state ought to move more of its government offices out of the downtown and rent space in private buildings in more convenient locations – letting landlords pick up the costs of maintenance  and other expenses.

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