CHAPEL HILL — A piece of property on Millhouse Road stands out a bit like a missing piece of a puzzle, at least when viewed on a map.
The 10-acre parcel is owned by members of the Nunn family, and it includes their home. There was a time three or four years ago when the town of Chapel Hill’s interest was fairly high in buying the 10 acres, as it was purchasing land for the new Town Operations Center now nearing completion.
The town never could get the owners of the 10 acres to sell, at least at a price to which the town would agree. Since officials weren’t interested in pushing the owners or considering steps such as condemnation, consultant Corley Redfoot Zack and the town had to design around the 10 acres, and so they did — trying to be careful with lighting and buffers around the Nunn parcel.
But the 10 acres now are up for sale by the owners.
The Nunn parcel forms a rectangle, and the town owns the properties on three sides of the rectangle.
The Town Operations Center will be the new home for the town’s Public Works and Transportation departments, and all the employees and buses, trucks and equipment that go with them.
Orange County records list Stanley and Clemenstene Nunn as the owners.
Clemenstene Nunn said Friday that she and her husband Stanley have lived in the house for about nine years. But the land goes back in the family for several decades, she said.
“What you have to realize is that the land out here belonged to my husband’s grandfather, Irwin Nunn,” she said. “He owned a mill and a farm on this road in the 1920s.
“He had six or eight kids, and he gave each one a certain amount of land,” Nunn said. “We have sentimental value here, along with just location value.”
Clemenstene Nunn declined to state the asking price for the 10 acres, and the real-estate agent handling the property could not be reached for comment.
However, on a Web site with the Triangle Multiple Listing Service, there is a 10-acre property listed at the same street number on Millhouse Road for $10 million.
Clemenstene Nunn said that, when she and her husband last were talking to the town in 2004, the town wasn’t willing to go beyond approximately $312,000. She said the family felt the 10 acres had good potential for commercial development, and that the price should be set accordingly.
She pointed to nearby commercial properties such as the United Parcel Service facility on Eubanks Road. The private Chapel Hill Industrial Park is nearby as well, and a Florida-based developer is considering proposing a mixed-use development for 56 acres on Eubanks.
But according to the Orange County tax assessor, the value of the Nunns’ 10 acres is $251,579, at least for property-tax purposes.
The family still has a mortgage on the home, and it would have significant costs in buying a new property and having the house moved, Nunn said.
“What the town was offering us would still leave us in debt, and we don’t need that,” she said. “We’re in a prime location.
“If no one is willing to give us the amount we want, then we’ll just be here a little bit longer,” she said. “But we feel that in time, it will happen.”
The town assembled about 89 acres for the public works and transit facility, paying a total of about $1.4 million for several parcels. Eubanks Road is to the south, and Interstate 40 runs near a portion of the site as well.
Property acquisition is one of the matters that elected bodies like the Town Council can discuss in closed session.
Asked about the Nunn property on Friday, Assistant Town Manager Bruce Heflin said he was limited in what he could discuss.
“I think it’s safe to say we are interested in the property and what happens to it,” Heflin said. “It doesn’t have the same value to us as when we were planning the [Town Operations] site.
“[But] we have talked to the Realtor and we’ve exchanged some information,” he said. “That’s about all I can say at this point.”