After four years of haggling over the historic Setzer Building at 130 West Trade St. in Dallas, it appears now that it will finally become a restaurant.
That had been the plan since the town decided that was the best potential use for the building it bought for $76,000 several years ago.
The idea developed after the City Council voted unanimously to buy the delapidated building as a part of a move to revitalize the downtown business area across from the Historic Dallas Courthouse. A marketing and research firm first suggested a combination of retail and residential use, but the return on such an investment appeared too small. Their second suggestion was a restaurant.
In 2015, the town came close to an agreement with Byron Sackett, who at the time operated Homestead's in Lincolnton and was looking to add another location. Sackett had already been turned down on a proposal to open a location at the old Webb Theatre in downtown Gastonia where another restaurant, Nick's Steak & Taphouse, closed in that location in January 2015. Instead of Sackett, Gastonia worked out a deal with Jim Morasso, owner of Chillfire in eastern Lincoln County and the Epic Chophouse in Mooresville. Morasso opened his Webb Custom Kitchen there and it has been very successful.
The proposed deal with Sackett would have had him leasing the Setzer Building with an option to buy that he could exercise after two years. Sackett would have eventually paid the town three-quarters of a million dollars for the property, not including a required payment in lieu of property taxes since the town would maintain ownership until Sackett paid the full amount. He would have been required to create at least 25 full-time jobs and a payroll of over $600,000 annually. If Sackett's venture failed, then City Manager Jim Palenick said the town would still own the then-renovated building and could look for another tenant.
Councilman Jerry Cearley led the opposition to that plan, eventually turned down after a motion by Council member Stacey Malker's motion to approve it died for lack of a second.
Then last year, the Town Board scheduled a public hearing to consider a new proposal, which had already been given a preliminary approval, to have Bessemer City restaurateur Mike Croft open a second location of his Whiskey Mill Bar, Grill & Brewery at the location. The Setzer Building would be torn down and a new one, built to resemble it, would be constructed. The town would also lend Croft $400,000 at 3% interest to help pay for the demolition of the current building and building the new one. When the meeting began, Mayor Rick Coleman read a letter from Croft backing out of the deal.
John Bailey, owner/operator of Sammy's Pub in Belmont and McAdenville's upscale eatery Table & Market, who had also made an offer on the property, said then that he would still be interested. While Croft offered the town $22,000 for it, Bailey offered $24,000 and said he didn't need a loan from the town to build his restaurant there.
Discussions continued, and unless something changes, Bailey will finally become the new owner of the Setzer Building and use it as for the second location of his Belmont restaurant, Sammy’s Neighborhood Pub.
Bailey's plan actually calls for restoring the two-story brick structure built in the 1870s. He plans to add an attachment to the back of the building for a kitchen, bathrooms, storage and restaurant equipment plus a patio for outside dining.
Bailey didn't get the property for that $24,000--but the deal he worked out doesn't include some of the other things on which the town had insisted previously. The purchase price was said to be $100,000. Bailey said he decided not to tear down the existing structure and build a new building, opting instead to renovate.
Sammy’s restaurant will occupy the ground floor, and the second floor will be used for offices. Bailey said it may also include a meeting room for events.
Bailey said he hopes to have the new restaurant open in less than a year.
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