HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — Does the Houston County Farm Center have a buyer? And who could the buyer be? And what could come of the space if a sale is moved forward?

On Monday at the Houston County Commissioners meeting, there were people for and against the sale of the farm center, stating that this is a site filled with memories of the county and any discission made should include community input.

According to Houston County Commissioners, a memorable site doesn’t mean it’s historic.

The Houston County Farm Center has been home to the National Peanut Festival, other events, historic memorabilia, but has gone unkept for years making the price to bring the old center back to life more than what it would bring in.

At the meeting, commissioners voted three to one to move forward with the preliminary sale.

“The transparency was brought up as an issue,” resident against the sale, Bobby Lewis said. “The main is how come we didn’t learn of it until the deal has already been done?”

Despite the questions of transparency, an Alabama law allows the Houston County Commissioners to make this sale without community consent.

Alabama Code 9-15-82 specifically states counties can sell properties without a bid, leaving it up to the commissioners to decide the future of the space.

“We have looked at renovating the facility and trying to do some things with the facility out there,” Houston County Commissioner, Mark Culver said. “It is just cost prohibited, there are not enough things we can do to get our money back.”

The farm center has been on the market for the past year and a half and the asking price of $2.5 million.

Currently, the county spends about $200,000 of the taxpayer’s money each year just on upkeep, funds commissioners say could be used elsewhere.

“We think growth on that side of town is important, this will create jobs, create a tax base, and enhance the quality of life,” Culver said.

What could the future of the farm center look like?

The Florida-based company, Brightwork Real Estate Acquisitions is offering the asking price and barring some sort of unexpected counteroffer, will likely become the new owners.

They’re looking to bring retail clients to the farm center, their businesses include banks, fast-food, convenience stores medical practices, even apartments.

As for the historic elements on the property, a member of the public recommended they move a plaque commemorating Joe Carothers’s, a farmer and pillar of the community to a museum at Landmark Park.

“As far of its usefulness as that particular location has seen its time, and now its time to move forward, Merritt Corothers, a resident supporting the sale said. “Let’s be progressive about how we approach our next step.”

Once again, at this time, the Houston County Commissioners have given preliminary approval to the sale.
If any group wants to keep the property as it currently is they have until next Friday, December 24 to place a bid.

The Brightwork group is already offering $2.5 million. Anyone wanting to stop that deal will have to pony up at least that amount.