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Ask Matt ... What's going in former Macon Bank building

Q. Who bought the former Entegra Bank Building on Main Street across from First Bank?

The new owner is Hendersonville attorney Whitney Staton (doing business as Sadie Mae Properties LLC). The building was home to Macon Bank and subsequently Entegra Bank, which was acquired by First Citizens Bank in 2020. The 8,136-square-foot building, located on the corner of North Main Street and Seventh Avenue East, was once listed for $3 million. Staton Law Firm acquired it for $1,865,000.

“We have outgrown our current building and the Macon Bank building has the space we will need and gives us room should we decide to expand in the future,” said Staton, who has always had a fondness for the 2-story brick colonial building. The new headquarters is three times the size of her North Washington Street law office. The plan is to move in as soon as renovation is complete. “We will be the only ones occupying that building at this time and there are no plans for renting any of the building out,” Staton said. A Henderson County native, Staton has been a practicing attorney for 11 years. Her firm specializes in real estate law.

Q. Given the high cost of the proposed Grove Street Courthouse renovations, would the space occupied by U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn be offered to a future congressman?

Rep. Cawthorn leases 2,038 square feet of renovated office space in the Grove Street Courthouse for $18,600 per year, or $9.13 per square foot. It’s a deal because comparable space in downtown Hendersonville can go for three times that amount. Tom Green, a broker with NAI Beverly-Hanks who handles commercial sales and leases, said the downtown leases run in the $20 to $30 per square foot range.

“The market is surprisingly strong for both leasing and selling,” said Green who recently arranged a 10-year lease for Optimum (formerly Morris Broadband) on a Main Street property that was the former McCarter Gallery.
County Manager John Mitchell said the architectural plans were not specific enough yet to allocate courthouse space and added that some outlying county offices might return to the 1995 Courthouse or find a home in the new six-story Courthouse Annex. “It benefits citizens of this county to have congressional offices in that building because of the extent of services they provide,” Mitchell said. He said the lease is paid by the federal government and thus benefits county taxpayers. “The decision to have a regional office is between the new congressman and the county commissioners,” Mitchell said.
Rep. Cawthorn’s lease runs through January 2023, which is also when his term ends because of his loss in the May 17 primary election. His was not the first 11th Congressional District headquarters in the courthouse. Former Rep. Mark Meadows leased a windowless suite of offices on the ground floor for $500 a month during his tenure from 2013 to 2021. Regional offices are typically staffed with six employees.
Mitchell said the courthouse project would be carefully planned out.

“We’re not going to just give the architect a blank check and tell him to do it,” he said. “We’re going to bid out everything to keep the cost down.” Still, the high cost of construction and renovation may color the thinking of the commissioners as courthouse plans develop and I suspect that the future space in the 1995 Courthouse will be restricted to court-related tenants. The architects estimate the price for the Courthouse Annex alone is $53.3 million or $565 per square foot. At that price, space for regional congressional offices in the Annex could cost over one million dollars.
In the early 1990s, when the County had long outgrown space in the Historic Courthouse, planning for the new one was rancorous. There seemed to be no pleasing the judges, the lawyers, Sheriff, District Attorney, Register of Deeds, and Clerk of Court. Moreover, the then-chairman of the Board of Commissioners steadfastly opposed raising taxes to pay for the building that was eventually built for a bargain price of $7.6 million. I suspect that by the time the $127 million courthouse and jail project gets underway, John Mitchell may have a few gray hairs.