Archived Story

Tryon turns down Jervey-Palmer offer

Published 5:07pm Monday, December 3, 2012

Polk County will resume ownership of the Jervey-Palmer building after Tryon turned down the gift.

Tryon Town Council met Nov. 20 and following a closed session decided not to take the building. Tryon officials sent the county a letter stating the town’s refusal of the property on Nov. 29.

“At their meeting on Tuesday, November 20, 2013, the Tryon Board of Commissioners decided that the Town of Tryon does not wish to proceed with the proposed transfer of ownership of the Jervey-Palmer building to the Town of Tryon,” states a letter to county commissioners from Tryon Town Manager Cailtin Martin. “Jerry Thomas (interested property owner) has indicated that he would be willing to work directly with Polk County Government to acquire and rehabilitate the property. The Town of Tryon thanks the Polk County Board of Commissioners and county manager (Ryan) Whitson for all the assistance they have provided during the review of this proposed property transfer.  Please contact us if you have any questions.”

Martin later told the Bulletin the transfer simply became too complicated.

“We were hoping that it would be a simple swap and that we would be able to gain not only a building back on the tax rolls but a new maintenance shed out of it,” said Martin. “Long term, we would like to place the maintenance shed at the wastewater treatment plant and tear down the one downtown because it’s such an eyesore.”

Thomas, the interested property owner in the building had offered to purchase a maintenance building for the town in exchange for the Jervey-Palmer building.

After vacating the Jervey-Palmer building last year, the county decided its best use would be to donate the property to the Town of Tryon since the building, located on Carolina Drive is in town limits and the town’s zoning district.

Tryon asked the county to perform a phase I study on the property and it returned with the discovery of lead paint and asbestos, which officials had already suspected. There are also two oil tanks located on the property and the issue of a phase II study surfaced. The latest proposition was the county asking the town if the county could simply remove the tanks from the property rather than do a phase II study.

“Then, the phase one came back and we realized the building had asbestos and lead paint (which were expected) but also two storage tanks under the ground that had to be removed because it was uncertain what they were used for. So, Tryon decided to remove itself from the equation and to let Mr. Thomas and the county reach an agreement about the sale of the building between themselves.”

Earlier this year Thomas purchased the former Grover plant located in Lynn, with plans to renovate the property for retail space.

The Jervey-Palmer building was originally constructed in 1929 as the original St. Luke’s Hospital before building the current hospital in Columbus was built in the early 1970s. Polk County had used the Jervey-Palmer building since 1973 as county offices until the building became too aged and expensive to maintain. Polk County constructed a new department of social services (DSS) building off Wolverine Trail in Mill Spring last year, which was the last county office to leave the Jervey-Palmer building. The county also purchased the former Carolina Classical School to house the Meeting Place Senior Center and veteran’s services and purchased a home off White Drive in Columbus to move mental health services, which were also formerly housed in the Jervey-Palmer building.

It has not yet been made public what plans Thomas may have for the building if the transfer of property from the county is successful.


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