Carthage Receives $1 Million Grant for Little River Project
Carthage will receive $1 million in development grant funds from the Rural Center for water and sewer improvements in the Little River area.
The money comes in the form of a 50/50 matching grant, but it won't cost the town a penny.
Town Manager Carol Sparks said this is for a new development, but much like a deal struck years ago that brought a 12-inch water line to serve Little River Golf Resort and new homes in that voluntarily annexed island area of Carthage.
"Blaine East and Gennaro Vitale - their company is called VLR Partners - bought the 80 acres for this from the former Little River partners," she said. "It's the section on the other side of (N.C.) 22 at the intersection with McCaskill Road."
The resort itself lies between two highways, N.C. 22 and U.S. 15-501. Originally, it was developed by the town as a municipal golf course and then sold at a profit to private developers.
One group built the clubhouse and condominiums, and then seven new partners bought it and announced big plans for hotels and homes. In 2006, revised plans were brought before the Town Board that added an elaborate shopping center and entertainment complex across the road.
Plans also showed a medical center and assisted living facility, movie and outdoor theaters, shops, a bowling alley and a large chain hardware store.
East, a well-known, established mall developer, said he and his partners build a new shopping center every 30 days and that he planned to move to Little River himself.
The center was to be placed on smaller tracts within the 80 acres.
"We've left a lot of open space," East promised. "This will become a true, regional destination. We are in need of a great grocery. We have had great conversations with Harris Teeter and Fresh Market. Where (on the ground level) we have a salon and a bistro, then there will be a cinema on top. It will be a six- or seven-screen theater showing first-run and art films.
"It will have art galleries, possibly a work space. We will build an amphitheater where we might have jazz festivals, symphony concerts. There will be a nice lake."
None of that happened. The seven sold the resort to a European firm, Oceanico. Now East and Vitale are making new plans for that same 80 acres. They committed to pay the town half of the million-dollar grant.
"It is for infrastructure," Sparks said. "Mostly it will be for sewer since we already have the 12-inch water line."
Income from water and sewer services will bring Carthage welcome revenue to its enterprise fund. That part of municipal budgets must run as a business and kept entirely apart from tax-supported general funds. State law requires towns collect enough in charges for water and sewer service to cover costs entirely.
"This is a whole new project," Sparks said. "They bought the 80 acres last summer, I think. It's called Magnolia Hill."
Tuesday morning Sparks was heading to Southern Pines to discuss details of the deal with the town's attorney, Doug Gill.
Contact John Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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