Finishing on time and on budget, the Haywood County Department of Social Services and several other government offices will move from their deteriorating, cramped homes to the renovated former Walmart by mid-January.
The Walmart shell was purchased and renovated at a cost of about $12 million to house a host of county offices: the Department of Social Services, the health department, planning department, building inspections, environmental health services and Meals on Wheels kitchen.
Construction will be finished by Nov. 24, according to Dale Burris, the county facilities and maintenance director. But it will take another eight weeks to get some 200 employees moved in and their offices up and running, he said.
“We are very pleased with the progress,” said Mark Swanger, chair of the Haywood County Commissioners. The Walmart renovation is the “smoothest project I’ve been involved in,” he said.
The county commissioners Monday approved a request for additional funding — about $32,400 — to move furniture into the building once renovations are complete. The money will come out of the county’s general fund.
Between 55 and 65 subcontracted construction workers are on the job each day, Burris said. And, although there were a few hitches, as is usual with such projects, the contractor was able to identify and remedy any problems, he said.
The project stayed within the original estimated cost of between $12 million and $12.5 million.
The county purchased the building for $6.6 million. Construction costs totaled $5.48 million, Burris said.
The project included gutting the building, remodeling the entrance and replacing the old roof with new over-build, copper roof.
The roof “looks really good,” said Commissioner Kevin Ensley. “It looks expensive” because of the copper coloring.
The commissioners voted in January 2010 to purchase and renovate the old Walmart building. The current DSS building had been deteriorating for years, and by that time had peeling paint, water leaks, hanging wires and an aging elevator — as well as cramped work conditions.
Purchasing land and building a new DSS and health department building would have cost between $25 million and $30 million.