Local News

Wakefield Developers Want To Preserve 80-Year-Old Barn

Posted June 23, 2000

— Wake County's growth usually spells doom for family farms and classic barns. The developers of Wakefield are determined to keep an old barn as their centerpiece.

"We hear people everyday who used to, as children, come out here and play in this barn and ride the horses," says Wakefield developer Billy Sutton. "It's massive. It looks like Noah's Ark upside down."

Built first for dairy cows, horses have been the most recent tenants. The 80-year-old barn is waiting for a new life. Some have offered to turn it into a restaurant or a shopping center.

"The highest and best use from our opinion has always been to preserve it as an equestrian facility," Sutton says.

That is what prospective buyers, Steve and Mary Schilling, want to do. They want to build a covered horse riding area on the property, but county zoning codes meant to protect the environment will not allow it. The codes would allow for the barn to be destroyed and houses to be built on the site.

"What's at issue now is to try to understand what that means with the county," Sutton says. "To see what process we have to go through to allow us to build the covered training facility."

Even if county zoners hold fast to the rules and the buyers back out, Sutton says the barn will still stand.

"It's a reminder to people to a part of the past, and what this particular piece of property was all about," Sutton says.

The barn and the surrounding 12 acres had been on the market for $1.2 million.

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