Costs nix school annex demolition
By Jon Hawley
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Pasquotank County is shelving plans to demolish the annex of the old Elizabeth City Middle School, due to getting a quote that it would cost $1 million to tear it down while preserving use of the gym next door.
In a finance committee meeting Monday at the Pasquotank County Library, County Manager Sparty Hammett recommended not going forward with the demolition, and commissioners agreed. The annex now provides restrooms and a concession area for the old ECMS gym, and the plan is to continue doing so, Hammett added.
Pasquotank officials had considered the annex's demolition for about two years. In mid-2017, county staff and commissioners agreed it was beyond saving due to structural problems and storm damage, and closed it to public use. Notably, the decision ended the popular “Fright Nights” event, a haunted house and police fundraiser.
The problem with demolishing the annex is that, to keep the gym in use, a new facade and restrooms would need to be built. So far, the county and Elizabeth City have set aside about $330,000 for demolition and reconstruction, based on amounts discussed during a city-county meeting last fall. The county has about $250,000 in insurance proceeds that would cover the demolition and some construction costs, while the city council had discussed providing $75,000 in support.
They had hoped the funds they set aside would cover most of the project costs, initially estimated at $450,000. With the boards' support, Hammett hired JKF Architecture, of Greenville, for a firmer estimate.
JKF's estimates came in far higher than expected, Hammett reported Monday. It initially put the cost of the work at $1.5 million, most of that cost tied to rebuilding a roughly 2,700-square-foot facade and entry along the south gym wall. The space would include restrooms, a concession room, ticket office, a lobby and other office and storage space, based on JKF’s quote.
JKF was able to cut costs down to $1 million in a second quote, Hammett continued. That quote shows savings in part by reducing the entry area to just 2,300 square feet.
With $1 million being almost triple what the county and city have set aside for the project, Hammett recommended not to proceed with it. Given the age of the old ECMS, Hammett said he could not justify putting $1 million into the property. He also explained that the restrooms and concession area of the annex appear to remain structurally sound; so long as that’s the case, he’ll recommend using it as-is.
During last fall’s meeting, Commissioner Cecil Perry had asked if the county and city should simply consider building a new gym space — which is likely to be a much larger expense. However, it might one day be a better use of funds than the annex’s demolition and partial reconstruction project, Hammett explained after Monday’s meeting.