Preserve, but hold back on building

By Vicki Hyatt | Feb 06, 2013

A deteriorating county building will be shored up for now to prevent further damage, but plans to renovate the property for future office space are on hold.

At the Monday board meeting, the Haywood County commissioners considered bids from a dozen area contractors about plans for the building off Elmwood Way in Waynesville often called the Bargains building.

Plans call for using the facility for the Haywood County Board of Elections office space; the Maple Leaf respite care operations, the county's wellness effort and offices for the Haywood County recreation department. The renovations were to be paid for by proceeds from selling property no longer needed by the county.

Since only one of the identified properties has been sold, the commissioners were reluctant to commit to the entire renovation project, estimated to cost $1.1 million. The call for certified bids asked contractors to submit prices for both the full renovation project, or the alternate shell package — a level of construction that would stop the building from further deterioration.

The commissioners discussed both options, but ultimately decided to proceed with the less expensive alternative.

"If we don't do something, we'll end up losing the building," Commission Chairman Mark Swanger said.

County Maintenance Supervisor Dale Burris said the shell package work would address the issues.

The board approved a motion asking Burris to enter negotiations with John Burgin Construction, which submitted a bid of $410,000 for the work.

County Manager Marty Stamey said property sales so far will be adequate to cover the cost. Of the parcels identified for sale, two buildings in Waynesville on a 1.79-acre tract of land were sold to a division of Smoky Mountain Center for continued use as mental health office buildings. That sale netted $460,000.

The county also negotiated a $145,000 contract with LifeSpan, which is renovating property on the Old Asheville Highway known as Annex III and will use it to provide programs for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The county is still trying to sell the building first used as the county hospital, and later as social services department building. Once the former Bargains building is renovated, it will free up the complex known as Annex II on South Main Steet in Waynesville, which is targeted for sale as well.