The Auburn City Council plans to discuss private, public and nonprofit options to relocate and preserve the historic Cullars residence at its regular Tuesday meeting.
“It is our understanding that Courtyard Properties LLC. has been notified that the lease has been terminated and Oct. 4, 2019, is the contractual deadline to determine if the house will be moved,” Auburn city manager James Buston said. “If Courtyard Properties LLC. declares that the house will be moved, there will be 60 days to do so from Oct. 4, 2019.”
The Cullars home, at 369 S. College St. adjacent to the Auburn University president’s home, was purchased by Orange-Auburn III LLC in August 2017 from Courtyard Properties LLC Buston said.
“While the city is not privy to private real estate contracts, it is our understanding that upon the sale of the parcel, which included the apartments and the Cullars house, Courtyard Properties LLC has a period of time to prepare to move the house or find an entity that would move the house once they were notified by Orange-Auburn III LLC that they planned to terminate the lease,” Buston said.
Buston emphasized the estimated cost to move transport and restore the historic dwelling will range from $700,000 to $1 million.
“If the Cullars house were to be moved, there are still a lot of logistical items that would need to be addressed with utility companies and the city’s traffic signals,” Buston said. “The height of the home — even with the roof removed — combined with the moving trailer will create numerous challenges along the moving route.”
Private-sector residents expressed an interest in preserving the Cullars home, but the exorbitant expenses to move the dwelling have dissuaded inquiring private parties, Buston said.
“The Auburn Heritage Association offered to assist the city in finding solutions to save the Cullars House in a letter dated July 20, 2019,” Buston said. “(City) staff reached out to Mary Norman, president of the Auburn Heritage Association, to gather information on the type of assistance that could be provided. Mrs. Norman indicated they would be willing to assist with fundraising but had yet to start the process.”
The city council will consider the approval of zoning ordinance amendments for academic detach dwelling units, a free-standing structure created for five students to inhabit a common space and five bedrooms, each equipped with a bathroom.
“The Planning Commission of the city of Auburn recommendation to city council for approval of amendments to Article IV of the city of Auburn Zoning Ordinance for purposes of prohibiting academic detached dwelling units from locating on parcels within and abutting the North College Historic District is hereby approved,” Auburn planning director Forrest Cotten said.
If the Planning Commission’s recommendation is approved, academic detached dwelling units will be allowed to be built under conditional-use approval in redevelopment district zones east of North Donahue, Cotten explained.
Cotten said the student housing type will not be prohibited on properties adjacent to the North College Historic District.
Tax abatements for expansion of equipment at SCA Inc., 764 W. Veterans Boulevard, and Capitol Plastic Products at 358 Enterprise Drive also will be considered for approval by the city council.
“This abatement is in connection to the acquisition of new equipment needed for the expansion of SCA Inc. at their existing location in the Auburn Technology Park North,” Auburn economic development director Phillip Dunlap said. “The company anticipates hiring 40 new employees over the next two years, with a capital investment of approximately $10,881,000.”
The incentives encourage businesses to hire employees and support Auburn’s economy. The potential abatement will allow Capitol Plastic Products to hire 12 employees within the next two years, investing more than $3 million, Dunlap said.
“Every time there is an expansion, we will abate the property taxes that come to us, but we do not abate the property that go to the school system, hospital or the children’s home,” Buston said. “They still get the property tax we normally get from that type of investment.”