DAVIDSON – Promising analysis of the potential to transform a historic school building on South Street into municipal offices has convinced town commissioners to seek a more detailed review of the building and the refurbishment required to make the 70-year-old facility a town asset.
At their April 24 meeting, town commissioners voted unanimously to authorize a payment of $28,000 to the Creech & Associates architectural firm for a thorough evaluation of the building's internal systems and physical condition. The objective is to determine the changes required – and what it would cost – to bring the 35,000-square-foot, multi-story building, which dates back to the 1940s, up to standards to serve as the town's administrative headquarters.
“From a high-level perspective, the needs should fit,” Brent Green, a Creech & Associates representative, told commissioners. Green's report included findings of a phase I review of the building, the current home of Lake Norman Christian School (LNCS).
The facility is owned by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), and LNCS is expected to vacate the building this summer to move to a Huntersville location. Town officials have had several meetings with CMS representatives about leasing the building, sessions Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox has described as “extremely positive.” And if a lease is pursued, the town would also want the first opportunity to purchase the building if CMS decides to sell it.
A multi-phase evaluation
In the $10,000 first-phase review, Creech focused on space – the usable amount
available in the building, the amount the town requires and the amount CMS staff want to have for their own potential office use. Measurements indicate the building meets those needs.
A chart Green submitted for review showed town space requirements are just more than 17,000 square feet, based on findings from a study conducted last year as part of a new facilities plan. In addition, CMS wants at least 4,000 square feet for potential offices for its Northwest Learning Community. A statement in the Creech report states, “The required usable space and the usable space available seem to align, and should reasonably fit within the building.”
The next phase will explore the condition of specific parts of building – things like the heating and air conditioning system and roof. It will also generate estimates about expenditures for renovations, including the potential installation of an elevator to meet accessibility guidelines.
The Phase II study will also include an examination of the school gymnasium, which is about 12 years older than the main building.
In approving funds for the study, commissioners also laid out a schedule calling for Creech to present its mechanical and structural analysis at the board's May 22 meeting. Financial estimates would be expected at the June 12 meeting.
The timeline has been set in case the board opts to pursue bond funding for the project as soon as possible. That would involve a town-wide vote in November. To get a bond referendum on the November ballot, the board would have to made a final decision by August.