Commissioners commit to $1 million in optional costs in West End Plaza renovation

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, May 8, 2024

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners voted on Monday to add alternative one to the base contract of the Rowan County Health Department renovations in the West End Plaza, committing it to one of the optional alternatives included in the contract.

When the commissioners approved the contract with ADW Architects for the health department renovations, included were four alternates that the commissioners could receive bids on before deciding if they wanted to go forward. The first of those was exterior renovations of the old Salisbury mall outside of the health department space, which included the areas from the former Big Lots through the former Dollar General. Alternate one was estimated to add $1,225,071 to the construction costs if it was approved, a total that is now added to the previous base bid cost of $15,463,240.

Phillip Steele from ADW Architects presented the reasoning behind the request during the commissioner’s meeting on Monday. Steele said that the main issue the company wanted to solve with the change would be the disconnect between the appearances of the exterior and interior of the health department if alternate one was not chosen.

“Alternative one, right now, is not to include anything in the base bid for the exterior renovations. We would have to go in, at least fix some of the plaster, the brick veneer behind the Big Lots sign, there’s tile falling off. It’s in pretty bad shape. I’d hate to see putting some money into the interior and not doing anything on the exterior of the building,” said Steele.

Steele also said that the request stems from Salisbury’s permitting and zoning process, because the property, despite being owned by the county, is within the city limits and under the city’s jurisdiction.

“To get the site plan approved for zoning as well as the exterior,” Steele said when asked by Chairman Greg Edds why the process is so lengthy. “Because you guys are in a conditional zoning district. We have to do community meetings, we’ve got engineering drawings we need to submit to zoning. With their current workload, it takes six to seven months to go through that process.”

After Steele presented the reasoning and answered questions, the commissioners took the opportunity to discuss how the funding for the project would be achieved. County Manager Aaron Church revealed that in the preliminary budget he was working on, which has not yet been presented to the commissioners, the funding for the West End Plaza renovations was completely paid through American Rescue Plan Act funds, Medicaid funds and approximately $10 million from the county’s unassigned fund balance. 

Church said that he currently has between $10 and $12 million from ARPA, $5 million from Medicaid and $10 million from the fund balance projected into the project. ADW Architects’ total estimated cost for the project was presented on Monday as $24,710,375 if all of the proposed alternates are agreed upon. 

After alternate one is added in, the base bid stands at an estimated $16,688,311. When combined with contingency funding, soft costs and designer fees, the estimated cost of the construction is approximately $22 million if none of the alternates are chosen.

“As long as we take this money out of the unrestricted fund balance and pay cash for it, I don’t have a problem with it. But I don’t want to borrow any money. I think we’ve borrowed enough money and it’s time to stop,” said Commissioner Craig Pierce.

After the discussion, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the change to the contract.