The former BB&T Bank Building on Main Street in Bel Air is once again under contract, but this time the buyer isn’t the town.
The building is currently under contract and in the midst of a study period, according to Donnell “Beetle” Smith, president of RKS Realty in Bel Air and the broker for the building. Smith declined to name the buyer of the building due to the ongoing nature of the deal.
He said the study period, during which a prospective buyer can evaluate the property, is expected to end in late November.
The Town of Bel Air had eyed the building earlier this year as a new home for its town hall, and reached a contract agreement to buy the building for $1.56 million in March. However, the town’s commissioners in mid-May voted 4-1 to back out of the deal, citing concerns over the total cost of the project, including an estimated $1.6 million in renovations required.
The town revisited the idea several times during the following months, most recently in mid-September, according to Mayor David Carey, who was the lone vote in favor of proceeding with the purchase. But he said the commissioners remained unable to reach a consensus on the potential purchase, though he felt the building could have been had for a lower price than agreed upon that spring.
“We had several commissioners against it,” he said. “It (the discussion) wasn’t anything real specific, we just said, ‘does anyone want to revisit it at a lower price?’ The same commissioners who were against it then were still against it.”
Smith would not specify the purchase price of the building, other than to say that it was below the original asking price of $2.5 million, which was close to the building’s assessed value.
While some town officials thought the price of the building may come down with its upcoming reassessment, the town’s tax revenues may similarly decline, keeping the property out of reach.
For now, Carey said the town has no further plans to move town hall, and appears to have little choice but to consider renovating its current Hickory Avenue building. The cost of that project is estimated at more than $1 million.
“We have not discussed it further,” he said. “The only option at this point is to do it (renovate) in place.”