Friendship Nine member Willie McLeod revisits sit-in lunch counter
An historic civil rights site and a popular golf course are nearly sold.
Rock Hill economic leaders voted twice Tuesday afternoon to bring the deals closer to their dotted lines. One involves the McCrory’s Building on Main Street. The other involves Waterford Golf Club.
The Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation has options related to both properties. The group decided to waive both options after learning from separate property owners that sales were close.
The group didn’t offer details on what buyers might soon become owners.
“We haven’t had any contact with the prospective new owners,” said Stephen Turner, economic and urban development director for the corporation. “We’ve only been dealing with the existing owners of those properties.”
Immediate attempts to get comment from the current property owners were unsuccessful.
The McCrory’s Building at 135 E. Main St. is best known for its role in the Friendship Nine sit-in. In 1961, African-American students from Friendship College were denied service at a lunch counter, but refused to leave and were arrested. Sit-ins in the area had been happening for about a year. The Friendship Nine event drew widespread attention to the movement for racial equality.
The lunch counter, inside McCrory’s Five and Dime, occupied the space on Main Street for 60 years. The 1901 construction most recently was home to the Five & Dine restaurant before it closed earlier this year.
A sale of the property won’t impact the historic lunch counter, which has been designated a historic site.
RHEDC owned the building many years ago, Turner said, and there was a restrictive covenant put in place when his group sold it to Piedmont Regional Association of Realtors. If the building were damaged by “some sort of catastrophe,” he said, the owner has a responsibility to rebuild. If an owner doesn’t within a reasonable time, Turner said, RHEDC would have the right to repurchase the property.
“So that it could be rebuilt and not leave a big empty, ugly hole in the middle of downtown Rock Hill,” he said.
The new owner needs RHEDC to subordinate its repurchase rights to a bank that will lend money for the project. Turner said it’s a reasonable request. His group won’t lose its option for future sales.
“We’re not eliminating our repurchase right,” he said. “We’re just subordinating our repurchase right to a lender who will have first mortgage on that property.”
The multi-tenant downtown site at 135 E. Main St. has a market value, county records show, of almost $1.2 million.
Waterford Golf Club is a similar case. At one point RHEDC owned all the land where the golf course is.
“When that property was sold for the development of the golf course, again there were restrictive covenants placed on that property,” Turner said.
In that case, RHEDC would have the first right of refusal to buy the property when it came up for sale. Canadian owner Romspen Waterford asked the Rock Hill group to waive that right for a sale.
“We got notice from the current owner of the property that there is a sale pending,” Turner said.
Turner said the plan as presented to his group was for the continued use of Waterford as a golf course. As with the McCrory’s site, RHEDC will keep its right for future sales.
“If somebody should in the future want to buy that golf course and do something that we were not happy with, we would still have the right to repurchase it,” Turner said.
The 205-acre golf course has a market value of more than $4 million. County records show the current owner bought it in 2014 for $2.7 million.