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County to hold open house at West End Plaza on Monday

SALISBURY – Rowan County commissioners will hold an open house at West End Plaza on Monday to get feedback from the public on plans for renovations.

The open house will begin at 6 p.m. Monday. It will be held in the mall’s common area in front of what was formerly a Belk’s store.

The county has drawn up plans for an agricultural center at the former shopping mall.

It would become home to Rowan County Cooperative Extension, the Soil and Water Conservation District offices, the N.C. Forestry Service and the Farm Service Agency.

“We’re having an open house to allow people to give feedback on the proposed plan,” said County Manager Aaron Church.

The commissioners, the architect and county staff members will be available to answer questions, Church said.

“I think the plans are really exciting,” said Amy-Lynn Albertson, director of the Cooperative Extension Office. “The meeting space, if it’s built the way it’s drawn, will give us the ability to host state, national and regional meetings.

“Our biggest goal is to increase our ability for outreach,” Albertson added. “I think we can do that with more space.”

At present, the Rowan County Board of Elections and Veterans Services offices are at West End Plaza. The former J.C. Penney’s space is frequently used for events. Otherwise, while there are still private businesses who rent space in the building, a majority of the space is unoccupied.

Rowan County purchased the building for $3.4 million in December 2013.

The $18.93 million proposal put forth by ADW Architects of Charlotte includes a demonstration garden, covered outdoor plaza, a new outdoor classroom and stage area, and public green space, as well as interior and exterior renovations. Though, individual parts of the plan, such as only creating an office for Cooperative Extension, could be accomplished for a lower price.

“I feel it has a tremendous amount of potential,” said Albertson. “I hope the county sees this as an opportunity to invest not only in the agricultural part of the community. I feel we have a lot to offer to the whole community and can do a lot of amazing things in that facility. We will get office space, green space and meeting space at the same time.”

Albertson said she believes the renovations will provide the opportunity to host large meetings and partner with commodity groups. She said the new facility will possibly attract more hotels and restaurants to the area.

Greg Edds, chairman of the county commissioners, agreed.

“This is something that will greatly improve the whole county’s quality of life,” Edds said. “We’re in really great shape financially. To begin investing in that facility, that’s pretty exciting.”

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