LUMBERTON — Robeson County has started the search for the company that will oversee renovations of the former BB&T building on Chestnut Street in downtown Lumberton, which will be used for administrative offices and to also move some offices out of the county courthouse.
An advertisement can be found in today’s The Robesonian requesting proposals for a construction manager at risk to oversee the “comprehensive renovation” of the building, according to County Manager Ricky Harris. The ad will also run in other publications, including The Fayetteville Observer.
“This is the first step in the project that will take about 18 months to complete,” Harris said.
According to the ad, proposals for a construction manager to oversee renovations of the building will be received until 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at the Robeson County Administration Office, which is at 701 N. Elm St.
The ad describes the building as being a four-story 64,655-square-feet commercial structure with a basement. The total budget for the project is $12 million.
According to the ad, a copy of the Request for Qualifications can be obtained by calling Harris at 910-671-3022, or by email at [email protected]
The county purchased the former BB&T property in September 2011 for $650,000. That price was for the parking lot since the actual building was donated to the county by the Hector MacLean family.
The county eventually would like to see the building house the Tax Office, Register of Deeds, County Manager’s Office, Computer Operations, Finance and Human Resources departments, as well as offices for the county attorney and Veterans Services. The county’s wellness center could also possibly be moved there.
“This is a good opportunity for the county,” Harris said. “We will be able to combine departments in one building, get some of our people out of the courthouse, and relieve the county of some of the expense of leasing buildings.”
Harris said that it is not certain ow the county will pay for the renovations. He said Kellie Blue, the county’s finance director, is looking into several options.
“We would like to get a USDA loan to fund the entire project, but that may not be possible at this time,” he said. “To qualify for a USDA loan the population of a community has to be below 20,000 and Lumberton’s population is above that.”
The commissioners began seriously considering moving forward with renovating the building during their annual retreat in Raleigh in early April. At a later meeting of the board, a majority of commissioners voted in favor of moving ahead with the project.
During the retreat, John F. Sinnett and Rhonda Angerio, both of the Raleigh-based architectural firm of SmithSinnett, presented the commissioners with an update to the plan the firm developed five years ago for renovating the structure. The total cost is now about $9 million, up from the estimated 2011 figure of $6.2 million.
According to Harris, the $3 million different in the figure provided at the retreat and that in the advertisement is to include furnishings, window work that was not considered in April, and to be on the “safe side” and not to under budget.
There are changes in the original renovation plans, Sinnett said, to allow for new code requirements that have come into play since 2011; the need to add sprinklers; water infiltration remediation and repair; mechanical and electrical updates; and the need for roof repairs or replacement.
Commissioners Tom Taylor and David Edge led the original efforts to purchase the property. Taylor on Thursday said he is glad to see the project moving ahead with the hiring of a construction manager.
“I want to see us get good quality work at the best price,” Taylor said.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.