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Square block of commercial property changes hands

Four commercial buildings downtown have changed hands, including the Social Security Administration office and the former Western Carolina Auction Co. packinghouse site on South Grove Street.

In a sale handled by Jones Commercial Properties, the two-acre tract owned was purchased by Fletcher-based Alliance NC Investment LLC, which owns and operates the Asiana Grand Buffet and Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse in Asheville.

“They don’t have any plans to open a restaurant of their own here,” said Gary Jones, who brokered the sale. “They've got somebody that’ll manage it and get them a tenant.”

Jones recently negotiated a 10-year lease extension for the Social Security office, which plans to invest $330,000 in a renovation. The Thai Spice restaurant is also leased. The former physical therapy building and the old packinghouse property, which had housed a restaurant, yoga studio and other businesses, are vacant.

The seller was Kathy Johnson Griffin, who had bought out siblings who inherited the property along with her from their father, Jack D. Johnson. The 13th child of Josiah Johnson and Cora Belle Whitt Johnson, Jack Johnson was a large pole bean grower who founded the Western Carolina Auction Co. to sell his own crop and the produce of his fellow farmers in Henderson County.