Business owner fighting Fayetteville over transit center site
Posted September 14, 2012
Fayetteville, N.C. — A business owner is tussling with Fayetteville over the city's plans to build a new transit hub downtown, which will force her building to be razed.
Jackie Pfendler says she never knew the city wanted her property, at 135 Robeson St., when she bought it three years ago for J.P. Electric Inc. Her real estate agent and the previous owner were likewise in the dark about the city's plans, she said.
"If they were going to take it, they needed to let us know. They never responded in any way that they were going to do anything," Pfendler said.
Mayor Tony Chavonne said the City Council voted in December 2008 to acquire the block of Robeson Street between Russell and Winslow streets for the $15 million transit hub and that Pfendler bought her building seven months later.
“We had a public hearing. It was highly discussed, highly publicized," Chavonne said. "We approached them long before they closed on the property and indicated this is something the city had looked at. We had already started acquisition of this land."
Fayetteville has offered Pfendler more than the building's appraised value, the mayor said, but she disputes that.
"We couldn't even afford to build this same building anywhere," she said.
The city also has offered her property elsewhere, but she says it's an area she deems "undesirable."
"I wouldn't feel safe working there," she said.
The transit hub, which has received $8 million in federal funding, will replace an aging bus terminal a few blocks away and will funnel travelers to the nearby Amtrak train station.
Crews will start demolishing buildings on the block this fall, and groundbreaking is scheduled for next June. But officials need to get Pfendler's property first.
"I hate to lose it," she said. "I'm willing to take this all the way, as far as I have to."
The city acquired other buildings on the block without having to go to court and is working to condemn Pfendler's building and seize it through eminent domain. Chavonne and other city officials said they are confident the issue can be resolved.
City inspectors also have balked at a banner she flies outside her business, saying it violates city codes.
The banner reads, "If Obama helped us build our business, why is he letting the City of Fayetteville take our business?"
"I was advised to take it down, or they were going to sue us," she said.
Pfendler said she will take down the sign, but she won't back down from the fight to save her building.
"I’m fighting the battle to keep my building and keep our business here. I don’t have the means to fight over a sign," she said.