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Architect to review TDA building remodel costs

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Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Parks and Recreation Director Dexter Harris discusses building plans with city and county officials during a tour of The Daily Advance building earlier this month. City officials plan to hire an architect to review cost estimates for remodeling the building for a senior center.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Elizabeth City is recruiting an architect to help it convert The Daily Advance building into a new senior center.

The city is working with JKF Architecture, of Greenville, on the remodeling of the Advance building, City Manager Rich Olson said Monday. The firm is expected to provide a cost estimate for the remodeling this week, and the city is also looking to hire the firm to design the new center, he said.

The firm's cost estimate should be a few thousand dollars, but the cost of its design services is to be determined, Olson also said.

Bringing in JKF continues the city's and Pasquotank County's months-long effort to offer seniors a larger, more modern facility than the current senior center at Knobbs Creek Recreation Center.

City and county officials announced their intent to buy the Advance building last month, and both City Council and the Board of Commissioners have approved an interlocal agreement to share costs, and eventually ownership, of the new center.

One elected official, Commissioner Frankie Meads, has opposed the purchase, arguing in part that maintenance costs for the large Advance building will be too high.

On Monday, Olson explained the city needs a state agency, the Local Government Commission, to approve the purchase, given the city and county plan to borrow $1.5 million for the venture. That figure includes the $1.15 million purchase price of the building, plus remodeling and equipment expenses.

He said one of the LGC's conditions is that the city have a licensed professional estimate the remodeling costs. That’s why the city is working with JKF.

City staff have already estimated remodeling the Advance building will cost $240,000, a number JKF will double-check. Renovation costs will include installing a commercial kitchen, removing some walls to open up space, adding new floor treatments, and possibly replacing lighting, Olson said. The project also calls for removing the Advance's many cubicles to open up activity spaces.

While the city is hiring JKF, Olson said he didn't know how accurate its cost estimates would ultimately be. A lack of contractors, and therefore competition, sometimes drives up construction costs in northeastern North Carolina, he said.

However, JKF does come well-recommended, Olson added, citing its work for state agencies and its redesign of the lobby for College of The Albemarle's Performing Arts Center. COA's new lobby opened last year.

Pasquotank County does not need to take further, formal action for the city to proceed with JKF, County Manager Sparty Hammett said in a separate interview Monday. He said he's pleased with company, adding that getting the cost estimate is a “pressing issue” to finalize the property’s purchase.

The city and county are looking to get LGC approval in June, Olson also reported.

Based on the interlocal agreement, the city and county are to split costs 50-50 for the senior center, including debt payments. After paying off its share of the debt, Pasquotank would become half-owner of the facility, under the agreement.

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