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City Council warms to new City Hall design

The newest draft proposal to replace Whiteville’s iconic City Hall was much better received Tuesday than previous submissions.
“I like it,” said Councilwoman Sara Thompson. “I think this will be an attractive building.”
A staunch supporter of the 1938 Whitley building, Thompson was the harshest critic of Oakley Collier architects when they unveiled a previous design proposal.
“This one is more on the lines of what we wanted,” Thompson said. “It looks more like it belongs in Whiteville. You can see some of the old building in the new one.”
Attempts to sell a vacant home beside the City Hall have failed due to the cost of moving the structure. The 1930-era home and a garage, along with two derelict homes facing Webster Street, will be torn down with the City Hall.
Tim Oakley and David Griffin of Oakley Collier presented the newest proposal Tuesday.
“At the risk of getting shot,” Oakley joked, referring to the board’s opinion of the previous proposal, “here is what we have.”
The brick structure will have more pronounced peaks to the roof, as well as an entrance facing the intersection of Columbus and Madison streets. The inspections office will have its own “front door” facing Madison, but most of the traffic in and out of the new city hall will use the courtyard entrance.
The new main entrance features a covered section as well as a place for flagpoles and landscaping. Oakley said the open area is “designed to be used,” as well as being an attractive front to the building.
“You’ll have a place for special ceremonies, events, private groups – there will be any number of uses,” he said.
A big difference between the new and old buildings is the removal of all heating and air conditioning equipment from the roof. The HVAC system as well as an emergency generator will be placed at the rear of the building and screened from the new, larger parking lot that is shared with the Police Station.
The council was split on whether to instruct the firm to install a metal or shingle roof. Oakley said the benefits of both are about even – metal has a longer lifespan, but a quality shingle roof with an extended warranty costs roughly one-third the total of a metal roof.
“You’ll have to replace shingles on a regular basis,” he said, “but a metal roof isn’t going anywhere. It’s a toss-up.”
Oakley and City Manager Darren Currie have established an aggressive schedule for the project. Oakley hopes to have demolition specifications completed within three weeks, at which point the city will advertise for bids. The goal is to begin construction next spring.

Stuart Rogers