07/20/07 — First look at rec center

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First look at rec center

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on July 20, 2007 1:45 PM

The plans are not quite where they need to be.

Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. executive director Julie Thompson is not a fan of a contemporary facade in the historic district.

But Recreation Center Committee chairman Chuck Allen said he remains confident that the latest rendering of Goldsboro's new community building is "real close."

Officials met Thursday with designers from Pearce, Brinkley, Cease & Lee to show off conceptual drawings of both the interior and exterior of the projected $10 million facility.

At 55,000 square feet, the building would include an indoor swimming pool, climbing wall, track and memorial to Wayne County's fallen soldiers -- features that have been widely accepted among project leaders.

But when architects Jeffrey Lee and Jennifer Attride presented their vision for the Center Street entrance, Mrs. Thompson weighed in.

"In an urban fabric, you have to be careful about how these things fit in," she said, referencing the window designers propose to build along the full length of the front face of the building. "Goldsboro is very traditional. I think this is going to be somewhat of a shock."

Planning Director Randy Guthrie agreed.

He said he was not sure how well the front face "fits in" with the other buildings along Center Street.

"Is the glass really compatible with the buildings around it?" he asked. "I wouldn't think so."

Lee agreed that the design is "a bit modern," but argued that many residents might respond well to a building reflective of "progress" being made downtown.

"I don't think it's necessarily a negative thing. In think in some ways, it's a cause for celebration," he said. "It shows positive expression and a different attitude -- a building that is more reflective, in a way, of this point in time. But this is your town. This is a decision that needs to be made by you."

Mrs. Thompson said she was not prepared to give the drawings her OK but suggested a few alterations to the facade -- mainly, brick columns to "break up" the glass.

But Lee, in response to the suggested change, warned that making too many changes to the plan at this stage in the project design will add cost to the already projected $10 million.

"If this is not what you want, we need to go back and look at other things," he said. "The question becomes, every time you do that, it costs money. Even changing the brick color costs money."

Allen said he hopes designers can find some "middle ground" with Guthrie and Mrs. Thompson and asked that they meet to discuss any changes that might make the building a better fit for Goldsboro.

But Allen remains skeptical that one can be reached.

"Personally, I don't think it's ever going to match what we have," he said. "This whole thing, if we keep driving the cost up, we are all just wasting our time because we won't be able to build it."

Mrs. Thompson said she and Guthrie will head to Raleigh soon to meet with, and provide input to, members of the design team.

Allen said he hopes things go well and that final plans will be ready for City Council approval by the end of the year.

"At some point you have to say, 'OK -- this is what we're going to do,'" he said.