Board approves grant request

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, March 9, 2010

WINTON – At their meeting here last week, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners opened the door for economic development in the town of Murfreesboro.

In a unanimous vote, the board approved a request to submit a Building Reuse and Restoration Grant application to the North Carolina Rural Center on behalf of Lafayette’s Tavern.

That request, made by Hertford County Economic Development Director Bill Early, is for $60,000. Keith Bradshaw has plans to renovate property at 125 East Main Street in downtown Murfreesboro and open as a sports bar/restaurant.

Early said the total investment for the renovation process is $186,800. Once the Tavern opens, it has the potential to create six new full-time jobs within two years.

“The sports bar and grill will be a nice addition to downtown Murfreesboro, especially to the Chowan (University) students,” Early said.

Early added that NC Rural Center officials are scheduled to meet on April 28 to consider this application.

“That gives Mr. Bradshaw ample time to obtain all the operating permits needed to open the new business,” Early noted.

If the application is approved, it requires a three percent local match. However, that part of the deal will not require actual funds from the county’s coffers. Rather, Early said his “in-kind” services (time used to make the application and then administering the grant, if approved) will cover the matching funds.

Bradshaw said his main objective was to transform the now vacant property, “into a nice establishment,” adding that adjacent property will be used for an outdoor dining area.

“For those looking for a nice sports bar and grill, this will keep the university students and local residents here in Murfreesboro instead of having to drive to Norfolk or Virginia Beach,” Bradshaw said. “This establishment is located within close walking distance of the university.”

Bradshaw added that his new business will be equipped with Wi-Fi Internet access and feature four wide-screen TV’s. He said plans are to feature open mike and karaoke nights.

The property, constructed in 1940, has been vacant for three months.

The Building Reuse and Restoration Program assist communities in transforming the potential represented by older buildings into economic reality. Grants help local governments prepare the buildings for reuse by new and expanding businesses. The Rural Center oversees the program on behalf of the N.C. General Assembly.

Two types of grants are available. Predevelopment grants of $25,000 help cover the cost of an initial study or other activity necessary to secure commitments from a business or investors. Development grants of up to $480,000 are awarded to projects ready for renovation and must be matched by at least an equal amount of private and public funds. Awards are limited to local governments in rural counties or the most economically distressed urban areas, with priority given to towns with fewer than 5,000 people.

Since 2004, the Rural Center has awarded 194 Building Reuse and Restoration grants totaling $24.8 million. All together, the projects are expected to create nearly 4,300 jobs and leverage more than $266 million in private investments.