HARRINGTON — A historic building downtown has a new lease on life after it was threatened with demolition.
Better known as the Farrow Building, 19 Commerce St. has drastically deteriorated over the years. But it’s not beyond repair, according to its new owner Darrin Simpson of Blue Hen Homes, LLC.
Mr. Simpson dated the sales contract March 10, months after the city of Harrington closed on demolition bids Jan. 4 for the building ranging from $45,000 to more than $250,000, according to City Planner Jeremy Rothwell.
In order to keep the building from its condemned state, then-owner Harry Farrow had originally worked with a structural engineer who helped describe needed repairs.
The city then put two conditions on the building: Mr. Farrow must get a building permit and a letter of credit stating that he could fund the repairs.
With a variety of factors in mind, Mr. Farrow decided to sell the building instead, Mr. Rothwell said.
Mr. Simpson purchased the building for $45,500.
The new owner, chairperson of the new Builders and Developers Committee through the city and newly appointed member of Harrington’s Planning and Zoning Commission, hopes to put a commercial business on the first floor of the building with an apartment on the second and third floors, he told members of the Harrington City Council Monday, March 20.
He also plans to place a plaque on the building in honor of Mr. Farrow’s late wife.
“It’s almost $700 in transfer taxes and you’d get rid of a blighted property. I think it’s a win-win for the city. It’s not exactly what the city had requested at the last meeting, but I think it’s a better fit in my view,” Mr. Rothwell said.
Harrington Vice Mayor Duane E. Bivans agreed, saying, “Due to the history, if there was a way to rehabilitate the building, we should. I see this as something that can benefit the downtown area rather than tearing it down.”
Council members also commented that grant funding now made available through the Downtown Development District program could help in the rehabilitation process for the property.
“Mr. Farrow, I know that building has a lot of sentimental value,” Mayor Anthony Moyer said, speaking directly to the building’s former owner.
“I know this has not been an easy choice for you. But I think you’ve made the right choice. I do believe the building will be restored to its full glory. For you, Darrin, we appreciate it when you take these old buildings. I applaud both of you for taking the steps that you have taken.”
With news of the sale, Council member Eric Marquis motioned to defer the demolition. The council agreed unanimously with the exception of council member Dean Helsel’s absence.
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