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Spencer town board gets look at Park Plaza progress

SPENCER — Town officials got their first look at progress on the inside of the Park Plaza project on Thursday.

The project is moving along and now has its walls laid out. Architect Keith Wales gave the Town Board of Aldermen an idea of what a new public area, administration and police department will look like while walking them through the metal outline.

Hard hats were not required during the walk because overhead construction had not started yet. Wales described what the finished product will be room-by-room. There will be a public-facing lobby, board room and security improvements for the police department and administration so the town can control who is able to enter offices.

There will be public bathrooms, employee bathrooms and a secure bathroom for police officers as well. The administration offices and workspaces will be grouped by the windows on the right front-facing side of the building. There also will be planters along the front of the building just to give separation from passersby on the sidewalk. There will be a snack bar.

The town government will ue 8,000 square feet of the area they purchased in Park Plaza. The remaining space is split into three units of leasable space the town will be able to offer to prospective businesses or renovate.

Wales said Park Plaza is a good building that was poorly maintained for decades. It was at the point where anyone developing it would need to go for a full renovation or demolition, he said. Wales said he was glad the town recognized the structure’s value.

Wales estimated the $2.8 million project would have cost about three times the current estimate if the town opted for new construction.

“It’s the HGTV solution,” Wales said. “Take the worst building on the block and improve it, and a rising tide lifts all ships.”

There is a delay on getting raw materials to finish the fire wall between the town’s part of the development and the new location for the N.C. Museum of Dolls and Toys, but Wales does not expect it to hold up the project because there is so much other work to be done.

Mayor Jonathan Williams said the project has been a long time in the making, and it is exciting to see the progress.

“We’ll be looking forward over the next couple months to see what happens,” Williams said.

Williams, an engineer, said he is pleased with the work by Vertex, the contractor, and Wales on the project. His biggest concern is the industry-wide difficulty getting the materials needed for projects.

“Inevitably you’re going to run into little things along the way when you’re working on an old building,” Williams said. “The biggest concern I have is what the architect mentioned about getting materials in. That’s an issue we’re seeing around the country.”

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