Commissioners renew plans to turn West End Plaza into agricultural center, meeting room – Salisbury Post
SALISBURY – The Rowan County Council of Commissioners voted Monday night to move forward with plans to turn part of West End Plaza into an agricultural center and meeting room.
The commissioners made the decision after receiving a presentation from ADW Architects, the Charlotte-based company hired in 2019 to design the renovations to West End Plaza. Phillip Steele, senior cabinet director, briefed commissioners on plans that were put on hold last year due to the pandemic.
The plans call for the conversion of approximately 63,000 square feet of West End Plaza into a 44,000 square foot meeting room and 18,000 square foot offices. The meeting room could accommodate up to 1,600 people and could be redeveloped into smaller meeting spaces. The office space would serve as a home for agricultural agencies such as Rowan County Cooperative Extension, Forestry Service, Soil & Water Conservation, and the US Farm Service Agency. The renovations also include a covered outdoor patio and lawn with an outdoor classroom for agricultural education and community concerts.
ADW Architects divided the project into several parts called ‘alternatives’, including a base project that does interior renovations to create the agricultural center and meeting room and three alternatives for further improvements to the exterior facade, entrances. and parking lots around the building.
With all three alternatives included and using current material and labor costs, the project would cost the county $ 24.4 million. The same project would have cost the county $ 20.86 million in March 2020, according to Steele.
âIf you had done it last year, you would have potentially saved $ 3.5 million,â Steele said.
The sharp rise in prices in just one year, Steele said, is due to the skyrocketing cost of lumber, steel and other building materials due to supply and demand shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
By voting to go ahead with the project on Monday night, the commissioners failed to commit the county to pay $ 24.4 million for the project. Council will not officially approve the project until the spring, when the price of building materials may have changed.
âTo be fair, there is hope in the construction industry that costs will start to drop,â said President Greg Edds.
Steele said he thought the cost would go down, but he’s not sure how much.
The price could also be lowered by removing or delaying certain alternatives, potentially saving the county millions of dollars. However, Steele said he would recommend the county to complete the entire project as planned.
âThe parking lot is not pleasant at all, the aesthetics of the building need to be improved,â Steele said. âIf you want to create a nice facility and set up a nice meeting room in this facility with farm offices, I think you’d want to do it all at the same time. “
Commissioner Jim Greene echoed this sentiment.
âWhile these budget numbers that we have are huge, we’re not too far off from being able to do this project,â Greene said. “I just want us to do it right if we want to do it.”
In anticipation of the project, the earl transferred money each of the past three years to a savings account. This account currently contains $ 6.03 million. The commissioners also forecast a debt of $ 15 million in the current budget for the West End Plaza project.
With the money the county has already saved and the plans already underway, Edds said he doesn’t see why the county shouldn’t go ahead with the project.
âI’m excited about this,â Edds said. “As (Commissioner Judy Klusman) said, I think this is something we can be proud of that will bring activity not only to this community, but to this side of town.”
The Council of Commissioners voted to approve the project by a vote of 4-1. Commissioner Craig Pierce was the only dissenting vote. Pierce joined the meeting virtually after his driver’s license was revoked when he was charged last month with impaired driving. He is scheduled to appear in court for the first time on July 30.
With the approval of the Board of Directors, ADW Architects will go ahead with drafting more complex designs for the project. Commissioner Mike Caskey said he would like the designs to increase connectivity between the proposed agricultural hub and other parts of West End Plaza.
According to the schedule provided by Steele, the county should be able to start bidding on the project in April 2022 and begin construction as early as June 2022. The project, he said, could be completed by July 2023.
In other meeting matters:
â¢ The Commissioners received a presentation from Rowan Economic Development Council President Rod Crider and Vice President Scott Shelton on the organization’s progress in sustaining and fostering new economic development in the county. Crider reported that the Rowan EDC helped create 492 jobs and $ 95 million in capital investment in fiscal year 2020-21, which ended June 30. The Rowan EDC, Crider said, also raised $ 1.2 million for their Forward Rowan campaign. The campaign enabled the organization to move from county-only funding to a public-private partnership. Through the Forward Rowan campaign, the Rowan EDC has created programs such as its online job portal.
Shelton provided an update on Rowan EDC’s efforts to recruit new businesses in the county. The year before, Shelton said, the county had a total of 133 leads on new interested companies, up 49% from the year before. Despite the pandemic, Shelton said there were also 15 company visits, matching the 2019-20 fiscal year total.
The Commissioners commended Rowan EDC for his work in fostering the economic development of the county and commended Crider and Shelton for the progress they have made.
â¢ Commissioners have authorized the county to solicit bids for the proposed Julian Road access road to Rowan County Animal Shelter and the new dog adoption center which is currently under construction on the property. The project is managed by McGill Associates. The water and sewer lines would also be extended to the project animal shelter. Plans for the route include an access point to James River Equipment, a John Deere dealership located near the shelter. James River has agreed to pay $ 59,000 for the project, County Director Aaron Church said. The remainder of the project would likely be funded by the county.
â¢ Commissioners approved the purchase of 18 vehicles, including 14 Dodge Durango and four Dodge Chargers, for the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. The vehicles will be purchased for a total cost of $ 572,730 from Ilderton Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram at High Point. The 14 Dodge Durango will cost $ 33,677 each and the four Dodge Chargers $ 25,313 each.
â¢ Commissioners authorized Church to solicit proposals from registered lobbyists to work with Rowan County. After discussing the idea of ââhiring a lobbyist to defend the interests of the county at the state and national levels last year, the commissioners included $ 60,000 for lobbying services in the current tax budget. .
â¢ Commissioners approved a request from District Attorney Brandy Cook to hire two deputy district attorneys to “help quickly resolve cases involving a threat to public safety.” The positions will each cost the county $ 82,459 ($ 164,918 in total) and the term of the agreement will be one year starting September 1 and ending August 31, 2022. There are currently nine permanent assistant attorney positions and Cook is in the process of filling another position.
â¢ The board approved a request from the Ministry of Health to reduce the number of temporary positions linked to COVID-19. Last year, the ministry requested that 11 positions be funded with state dollars, but is asking that the positions be reduced to 7.5 full-time equivalents. The change will reduce personnel costs by almost $ 120,000 per year.