COA eyes December for library upgrade


Students are shown in College of The Albemarle's library, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. A long-awaited renovation project to the library is now slated to get underway in December, a college official told a COA Board of Trustees panel last week.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, October 2, 2017

College of The Albemarle officials are hoping to begin construction in December on the college’s long-awaited library renovation.

The contract for the project, budgeted at $3.5 million, has been awarded to A.R. Chesson Construction Co.

Although Chesson’s bid was $292,000 over COA’s budget, Joe Turner, the college’s chief operations officer, told a Board of Trustees committee last week that the college will use “value engineering” principles to bring the project cost in line with the original budget.

“Value engineering” refers to principles and practices — especially the substitution of lower-cost materials where it will not have a harmful effect on the project — to keep construction costs more in line with a project’s original budget when unavoidable cost increases arise.

NC Connect bond funding is covering $1.8 million of the cost of the library renovation project.

The COA Board of Trustees earlier this year approved a plan to use $6.59 million in NC Connect bond funding to build and renovate COA facilities in Elizabeth City and in Currituck and Dare counties. The plan calls for using $1.8 million for library renovations on the main campus in Elizabeth City; $1.3 million for a maintenance and storage facility at the back of the main campus; $549,000 for lobby renovation at the Performing Arts Center, also on the main campus; $1.5 million for campus consolidation and renovation of professional arts spaces at the Dare County campus; and $1 million for a public safety building and classrooms on the Currituck campus.

Turner told trustees’ Building and Grounds Committee the college hopes the library renovation project will start in December and be completed in about nine months.

The project has been a long time coming. College officials said last October COA hoped to start construction in May of this year and be done within eight months.

The renovation includes a complete overhaul of 21,000 square feet of space in the two-story building, along with new mechanical, electrical and information technology infrastructure.

The college also is proceeding with a major renovation to the lobby area of the Performing Arts Center. The original plan called for demolition of the existing ramp in the lobby and substituting an elevator lift for handicapped access to the facility. The N.C. Department of Insurance has ruled the ramp cannot be removed, however.

Turner told the committee that keeping the ramp will change the design for the renovation but also most likely reduce the cost of the project. The total project cost is $585,000.

The plan is for the renovated Performing Arts Center to be ready in time for the end of the spring 2018 theater season. Lisa Johnson, executive director of the COA Foundation, told the committee that New Community Church has agreed to host the first spring production at its facility. The church is serving as the venue for COA’s entire fall 2017 season.

The lobby renovation includes an electrical upgrade, new lighting and a redesigned heating, cooling , air conditioning and ventilation system.