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Wednesday, 28 June 2017 14:49

Jackson awards $1.1 million contract for Skyland Services Center renovations

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Work will soon begin on a remodel of Jackson County’s Skyland Services Center following commissioners’ unanimous approval of a $1.1 million bid from Sylva-based Western Builders during their June 19 meeting. 

That figure comes in below the $1.8 million the county had budgeted for the project, which entails remodeling 12,000 square feet of the 15,000-square-foot building, located along Skyland Drive in Sylva. The bid price also includes putting a new roof on the facility. 

Commissioners have been discussing renovations to the building — known to some as the old Southern Lumber building — since 2014, when a plan was laid out to allow some offices currently sharing a building with the Health Department to move over to Skyland Services. That would in turn free up needed space for the Health Department. Commissioners are currently deliberating whether to build a new Health Department building or renovate and expand the existing one.  

The Skyland Services Center houses the Board of Elections, Drivers License Office and the county’s ground maintenance, housekeeping and public works departments. However, it also contains about 10,000 empty square feet. After renovations, Jackson County Cooperative Extension, the Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resource Conservation Service could move into the building — Extension and Soil and Water are currently collocated with the Health Department. 

Design plans for the project were prepared by Sylva-based architect Odell Thompson, whose contract is worth $72,000. So far, 80 percent of the work outlined in the contract has been completed, with the remaining 20 percent to come with the construction phase. 

In addition to the requisite office, storage, meeting and mechanical space, plans also include 620 feet of unclaimed space in the center of the building that could one day hold a commercial kitchen. The county will install a sewer line there as part of the renovation — a necessity should a commercial kitchen come online — and look for grants to fund equipment purchases in the future. 

The idea is that the kitchen could be an instructional space for Cooperative Extension programs and available for community members to rent by the hour. Selling prepared food products typically requires using a certified commercial kitchen, but gaining access to such an expensive resource is often cost-prohibitive for small operations. 

Over the next couple of weeks, the county will be finalizing contract documents and performance bonds so that work can begin. When the contract is signed, Western Builders will have six months to finish the work. 

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