E-commerce company seeks roots in downtown Wilson

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The Wilson City Council opted Thursday to advertise for upset bids on 108 Tarboro St. after receiving an offer from an e-commerce company looking for a brick-and-mortar space to manufacture and sell handmade bath and body products.

City Manager Grant Goings said the offer for $45,000 was received, but staff needed direction since the property is currently being used as a billing office for the city. Goings said the city could market the property or advertise for upset bids — starting at $100 plus 5 percent of the current offer.

“My understanding is that this came from a business our downtown development staff has been working with to find space for about a year and a half,” Goings said.

According to the packet given to the council, Kinky Tresses founders Shawna and Junior Moses plan to invest $40,000 to upfit the 1,700-square-foot property including new flooring, facade renovation and ceiling repair. If Kinky Tresses’ offer is selected, the business is expected to open within three or four months after closing with expanded products lines as well as hire one full-time and two part-time employees within the next two years.

“In past upset bid processes, we not only list the price, but list some requirements for investment, jobs, etc.,” Goings said. “You can put those conditions in the upset bid beyond just the price.”

Kimberly Van Dyk, the city’s planning and community revitalization director, said if those conditions are not met by the buyer, there is a revision clause that reverts the ownership back to the city.

That discussion took place during the 5:45 p.m. agenda session. During the 7 p.m. meeting, Mayor Bruce Rose took the opportunity to proclaim March 14 as American Red Cross Blood Drive Day to coincide with the annual drive at Fike High School. The event is the nation’s largest one-day blood drive at any high school with hundreds of donors giving blood from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The goal this year is to collect 650 pints, which could potentially save up to 2,000 lives.

Other action during the meeting included demolition orders for nine abandoned houses and a grant application related to the Hominy Creek greenway project. Officials also approved exchanging a .71-acre parcel in the Freeman Place development with AME Zion Wilson District Community Development Corp., which owns a parcel on Pender Street. Council approved the exchange that will allow for a landscape buffer and possible parking.

During the public comment period of the meeting, Jerome De Perlinghi advocated the city to push BB&T for information about possible layoffs associated with the merger with SunTrust while Gloria Wilder presented a petition from residents along Winoca Road for crews to repair damage to the street.