Spencer approves Park Plaza construction contract pending revisions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 9, 2020

SPENCER — The Spencer Board of Aldermen hopes it has made the final motion to commence construction on the Park Plaza project.

On Tuesday, the board approved awarding the construction contract for the project pending some revisions being made between the architect and contractor to fall within the bid amount. After that is confirmed, the UDSA must approve the project then hold a pre-construction meeting.

The contractor is Vertex Construction. The architect is Studio Wales.

The board had to adopt a budget ordinance for the project and authorized administration to move forward.

The saga of the problems with the largely empty property dates back to the 1990s. But in 2015, the town started exploring solutions for its own inadequate facilities housed in a former railroad dorm. The $3.9 million Park Plaza project will renovate part of the shopping center and move almost all the town’s government operation, including the police department, into the facility.

When the Board of Aldermen put the project out to bid last year, the prices returned by contractors came in well over initial estimates. The new board went back to the drawing board, removing a park and value engineering the renovations to narrow the scope to the point the town could afford it.

The town is financing $2.8 million of the project with an interim construction loan from Truist Bank, which the USDA will reimburse and become the financier for the town. The Local Government Commission approved the town’s interim financing plan last week, the last step before the town could approve contracting with Vertex Construction to begin work. The town tapped Vertex earlier this year through the bidding process.

Work on the project is expected to begin in January and take eight to 10 months.

The current town hall struggles with heating efficiency in the cold months and a layout that creates issues for the Spencer Police Department, placing evidence lockers that are not air-tight directly across from offices.

Park Plaza was built when Spencer was still a small, booming rail town and the Spencer Shops were running full tilt, but in the 1990s the plaza had a number of empty spaces. Some of them were never filled again.

On Tuesday, the town board also discussed a new town logo, looking over some drafts and discussing options. Opinions varied. The board ultimately agreed to go back to the drawing board on the logo and discuss it more during a retreat.

Tuesday also marked the last meeting for interim Town Manager Dave Treme, who will be passing the torch to current Assistant Town Manager Peter Franzese.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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