After a couple of years of talking and planning, renovations will soon begin on the former Pike Electric building on Riverside Drive.
The 22,500-square-foot building will become the new central office for Mount Airy City Schools, replacing the slender building in use just off Main Street on Rawley Avenue.
Plans for the building call for gutting the inside, creating office spaces, warehouse space and a 21’x61’ meeting room. It also will have some classroom space that can be available for other county needs — Surry Community College evening classes and GED training were mentioned as possibilities.
An estimate from consultant Bill Powell mentioned at a board meeting last year came to $1.82 million.
In order to pay for this project, and some other needs, the Surry County Board of Commissioners is accepting a bond issuance to be paid back over 20 years.
Sarah Bowen, county finance officer, explained last month that the first phase of work consists of borrowing $8.2 million; after 20 years of payments, including interest, the total payout on this debt likely will be about $10.5 million.
This issuance also will cover renovations of the former Lowes Food grocery store in Dobson Plaza, the historic courthouse in Dobson, planning for major renovations at three county elementary schools, and planning and designs to renovate the gym at Elkin High School.
Bowen prepared the paperwork for the commissioners, who approved the final bond issuance on Monday.
Bowen attended the city’s Board of Education meeting in case questions arose about the school board finalizing its details. This included signing a longterm lease with the county, who owns the deed to the former Pike property.
One wrinkle that came up to the Pike renovation plans in November was a change to the roof design.
Dr. Kim Morrison, school superintendent, that month showed the board members renderings of what the renovated building could look like. She said one rendering already had been done, but after speaking with county officials, a second design was created with a raised roof over the planned 21’ x 61’ meeting room.
The arched roof looks similar to the student commons area at Mount Airy High School, noted board member Phil Thacker.
The raised roof would allow some natural light into the room, said vice chairman Tim Matthews. That extra ceiling space could make the meeting room more appealing aesthetically with all the purposes the room could be used for, he believed. The idea behind this space is that it’s not just for the school board, but for community use.
Considering the cost to taxpayers, Morrison said she felt like the space should be utilized as much as possible.
“We want it to be a hub of the community,” she told the school board in November.
How much time would going with the second roof option add to the timetable, asked Matthews. The first plan called for having central office personnel ready to move into the building over the summer break.
Morrison said she wasn’t sure at that time. However, at this week’s meeting, the timetable had been bumped closer to the end of the year.
With the original roof repair, the idea was to have the roof fixed by March so that interior work could begin. On Tuesday, board members said that the roof work had not yet begun.
Jarod Simmons and Simcon won the bid for the project. He and architect Randy Baker attended the meeting. They said a pre-construction meeting would be held next week to go over everything just before work begins.
Matthews asked if the time frame now is to be in the building by Christmas. Simmons said yes — it could be a month or more ahead of that, but certainly by Christmas break.
The additional time and expense of raising the roof was debated by school board members in November. At this week’s meeting, however, no discussion took place.
When the vote came up on approving the longterm lease and the financial paperwork, board member Mike Marion simply voted no to both issues without any discussion.
Reach Jeff at 415-492.