Several buildings in downtown Bedford may have to be demolished.

Longtime Bedford residents will remember the buildings at the corner of Washington and South Bridge Streets as the home of Sprad's Department Store and Billy's Pharmacy.

Both properties have been vacant for years.  Black sheets cover up the structural problems inside.   

"We found some mold problems in the basement and we're concerned about asbestos," said Craig Coker, chairman of Bedford County's Economic Development Authority (EDA), which owns both buildings.

The county bought the properties 13 years ago with a goal of renting them out and generating revenue.  So far it's been quite the opposite.

"It's just a steady drain on us, in terms of maintenance costs," Coker said.

The county spent more than $87,000 to maintain the properties between 2001 and 2012.

The Economic Development Authority wanted to tear down the buildings two years ago, but there weren't any county funds available to carry out the demolition.

"We need to do something with those two buildings," said Coker.

In addition to the two buildings, the county also owns the Vista Foods grocery store next door.

The EDA would like to redevelop the entire site and create something attractive that would benefit the entire town.

"It's a three acre parcel," Coker explained.  "It's probably one of the largest parcels in the town."

Ideas like building an amphitheater, a park, or housing on the property have been informally discussed.  The EDA wants the grocery store to stay and possibly go in a new building.

Whatever happens next with the property, county leaders want their plans to reflect the desires of the community.

"I think there are some opportunities," Coker said.  "It will take many years to redevelop that piece of property."

Coker says the EDA will hold community meetings to get feedback about the property before making any redevelopment plans.