Wal-Mart renovation to be scaled back

The renovation of Haywood County’s former Wal-Mart will be delayed as architects revise the project to match its budget.

Scott Donald of Padgett and Freeman Architects, who are planning the renovations for the now-county-owned building, told Haywood County commissioners at their Monday meeting that all 10 bids for construction on the project had come in over budget.

In a letter to Facilities and Maintenance Director Dale Burris, Donald estimated that at the lowest bidder’s price the total project would run $2.9 million over estimates, when including increased costs for furniture and plumbing problems. The county had budgeted $5.8 million.

Donald told commissioners that, after meetings with county staff, his recommendation was to take another look at the project. He recommended that since the projected overrun was so large, it would be best to adjust the project’s scope to fit within the budget.

“I feel like the prices were good,” said Donald. “I think we just have a little too much scope for the project, so we’re scaling it back.”

Commissioners agreed with the recommendation and voted unanimously to reject all bids and ask Padgett and Freeman to submit new drawings by early November. Commissioners plan to take new bids in early December.

The building was purchased by commissioners earlier this year with funding from a USDA rural development loan. It will eventually be home to the Haywood Department of Social Services, Health and Central Permitting Offices, whose long-time building was quickly becoming decrepit.

The board also voted to approve contracts with the three lowest bidders for Haywood Community College’s new Creative Arts Building, waterline upgrade and renovation of the General Education Building.

Possible uses for the former Bargains building were also discussed, including a dedicated senior center. The building is located next door to the county office building on Russ Avenue.

“We’ve recognized the need for a centralized senior services center,” said County Manager David Cotton. “We also evaluated the space needs specifically for the elections department, parks and recreation and the wellness center.”

However, the county has also applied for federal appropriations funding to create a senior center and have heard no word on the status of that application, so a decision on what the building will house was postponed until a later date.

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