The Old Zebulon School building was saved by citizens in the past several years who contributed funds to fix structural issues and reroof the historic structure. A few different plans for the building were proposed and grants sought to provide funding but the building was recently put up for sale by the Zebulon Downtown Development Authority.
“‘We are extremely thankful to everyone who helped save the Old Zebulon School. Without our community’s contributions towards saving the roof, the building would have been lost,” said ZDDA president Beverly Walter. “During the six years we have been working to rehabilitate the OZS, construction costs have skyrocketed. On our own, the ZDDA lacks the resources to fully renovate the Old Zebulon School. We planned to use a combination of private equity, historic tax credits, grants and loans through the Georgia Cities Foundation and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to finance project costs. We have been unable to attract enough private equity to qualify for the GCF and DCA funding mechanisms.”
According to Zebulon mayor Joe Walter, there are other challenges to using the facility as a community center as proposed, including the fact that there is only .75 acres of property which does not allow for much parking area. He said the ZDDA has to pay off debts related to the property and then look at how to invest the funds to promote the city of Zebulon and its businesses.
“Thanks to so many of you, the building has survived – it’s dried in, stabilized and protected,” said a recent letter from Pike Historic Preservation, signed by Elsie Anderson Bell, chair, Chris Curry, secretary, Anna Evans, Tammy Lindsay, Joy Whisenhunt and Jessica Butler. “The community’s demonstrated support for the building allowed the ZDDA to secure a loan to repair and secure the foundation and begin the repair of the interior. Because of outstanding debt used to stabilize the building, the ZDDA’s recourse at this time is to sell the building.”
Pike Historic Preservation’s update noted that the ZDDA’s first plan was scuttled when the project was not chosen for the highly-competitive Redevelopment Fund grant program.
Another plan proposed for the building was to encourage the city or county to develop the building for administrative offices. Both determined their needs would not be met by the building.
The mission of the ZDDA is to encourage quality growth and economic prosperity while maintaining the small-town experience. Other ZDDA members include Charles Burden, Chris Curry, Dan Dunnahoo, Larry Lynch and Trudy McDevitt.
“We strive to preserve our historic and natural resources while promoting, revitalizing and beautifying downtown Zebulon. Our goal is to create and maintain a healthy, vibrant downtown. We are involved in planning and management of development and improvement activities, business recruitment and retention activities, events, and capital improvement projects,” said Beverly.
In 2018 the ZDDA used the funds to remove deteriorated and collapsed materials, add exterior wall bracing, and shore up, reframe and replace the roof to prevent further deterioration.
“These measures will give us time to find the right buyer to repurpose the OZS and once again make it a vital part of downtown,” said Beverly. “Given the growth in our region, we think this is a great time to attract the right person with the vision and resources to rehabilitate the OZS.”