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Despite delays due to weather and other causes, city hall on track for completion by early 2019

By Allen Turner, The News Reporter

Despite delays, some weather related and others caused by not getting as timely approval as had been hoped from the State of North Carolina at the beginning of the project, work is progressing nicely on the new Whiteville City Hall at the intersection of South Madison and Columbus streets. City Manager Darren Currie hopes the new building can open in February or March.

At the very beginning of the project, there was a delay of about a month in getting approval from the Local Government Commission, and then, when work on the site actually began, portions of the site were unable to pass soil tests and new fill dirt had to be brought in. More recently, more-than-usual rain has hampered construction. Currie said that while Whiteville gets 57-58 inches of rain in an average year, the city has already had 54 inches since Jan. 1.

Shannon Smith of Asheboro-based general contractor Smith & Allen concurred with Currie’s prediction of completion by February or March. “If we can catch a break, weather wise, we can probably do it even quicker,” Smith said, “but February or March would be a good bet.”

The total, or turn-key, budget for the City Hall project is $3.4 million. That includes the razing of the old City Hall, acquisition of an adjoining property and demolition of a house on that property, architectural fees, furniture and all technology-related expense. Currie expects that figure to hold pretty steady.

“There might even be some places where we can even save a little bit of money,” Currie said. “I fully expect the contingency to hold up and we certainly shouldn’t have to budget any more money for the project.”

The new 10,700-sq. ft. building will replace the old 3,500-sq. ft. City Hall on the same site. The city currently is operating out of 6,000-sq. ft. in leased facilities at Hill Plaza.

All city agencies except the police department, fire department, parks and recreation and public works department will be under one roof in the new building.

“It will definitely be more convenient for our citizens,” Currie said. “Water, sewer, finance, planning, inspections including fire inspections, zoning, human resources and administration all will be in the new building.”

“Most city halls are part of their downtown community,” Currie said, “and I am excited to see our city hall returning downtown.”

He said that although city staff was “ecstatic” to move out of the old City Hall because of mold issues, they are excited about moving into the new building.

Exterior walls are going up at the new City Hall are all steel and will be completed soon.

Currie had hoped to schedule a tour of the site for city council prior to Tuesday’s council meeting, but after consultation with the architect, that has been put on hold until at  least the second meeting in August.

Stuart Rogers