August 1, 2008

Appraisals of waterfront properties to be purchased
by state are coming in below asking price


Appraisals of some waterfront properties slated for purchase by the state under the Waterfront Access and Marine Industry funding program are coming in at millions less than asking prices.

One appraisal valued the 12-acre tract and marina at the foot of the William B. Umstead Memorial Bridge in Manns Harbor at $2.7 million.

The owner, Outdoor Properties III, LLC of Greenville, is asking $5.75 million for the property, according to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), the agency in charge of administering the Waterfront Access and Marine Industry (WAMI) fund.

The Manns Harbor project was one of 13 tentatively approved in April by DMF director Louis Daniel for partial funding from the WAMI fund.  The fund provides the state with $20 million to be used to buy coastal waterfront land and to develop public access facilities, such as boat ramps and docks. 

State law requires two appraisals on properties worth more than $500,000.  Appraisals are done by independent, state-certified appraisers, and are used by the State Property Office to negotiate a purchase price with the owner.

The state normally does not pay more than the appraised value of properties.

The State Property Office has not received the second appraisal for the Manns Harbor property, according to DMF spokesperson Bonnie B. Jones.

Appraisals for other properties approved for WAMI funding have also come in far below asking prices.

Land in Englehard in Hyde County that would support an annex of the Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park was valued at $1.3 million in one appraisal, about half the asking price.

And appraisals of WAMI projects in other coastal areas aren’t meeting property owners’ expectations either.

Millis Seafood in Sneads Ferry was valued at $3 million less than the $6.5 million asking price in one appraisal.

A 28-acre tract on Cedar Island in Carteret County was appraised at just one-fourth of the asking price.

Louis Daniel said he expects some property owners will decide against selling their land to the state.

But Daniel said that would not sideline the WAMI program.

“We have other tremendous project proposals we could tap into,” he said.

The State Property Office has made a $1.45 million offer to purchase a tract of land in Nags Head owned by Thomas and Jeanette English.  The land would support the septic field and stormwater runoff requirements for the state Aquarium pier that will be built on the Jennette’s Fishing Pier site.  The state Aquariums Division applied for WAMI funds to help with pier construction costs.

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