04/13/12 — Former arts building might house city offices

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Former arts building might house city offices

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on April 13, 2012 1:46 PM

Following Goldsboro's master planning process for its prospective Air Force museum the city might look to house existing departments in the proposed facility during the interim.

Members of Parks and Recreation's administration toured the building at 2406 E. Ash Street recently to evaluate whether the building would be a good fit for its director along with a few other positions.

City Manager Scott Stevens said he hadn't talked about the move very broadly since the city is still six to eight months away from deciding what to do with the building, but he said Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan told him when he began with the city that using the building's space for possible rental space had been discussed during the purchase talks.

Those talks occurred, but did not include the prospect of moving Parks and Recreation into the building, which housed the Arts Council of Wayne County until the city purchased it for $500,000 last year. Discussions then were almost exclusively about moving Travel and Tourism into the building.

Stevens said that after Verner Johnson, the city's consultant hired for the master plan work, presents its findings, the city could decide then whether it would be cost-effective to move Parks and Recreation, Travel and Tourism or possibly the Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit into the space.

That said, Stevens said there are still many unknowns regarding the building and the City Council's plans for it. The roof still leaks and would need to be repaired, plus the HVAC system would need work since the heating system doesn't work.

Repairing or installing a new, similar HVAC system could end up not being cost effective since museums require different systems than ordinary office buildings.

"We're just thinking out loud about different interim uses for the building," Stevens said Tuesday. "There's no imminent plan to move Parks and Recreation there, it just came to who could we move. We haven't talked with council yet so it's not under serious consideration. It's a conversation about can we do some things -- to talk about the building being not empty. What does it cost us to be able to use it?"

Ms. Logan said the council's insistence late in the purchasing process that the building could be sold if the museum doesn't appear viable was still evident, but said the option to have the building inhabited if they decide to wait on implementing an Air Force museum into the space would be something to consider.

"At this point the council has been clear," she said, recalling a decision by the council to not outfit the building for rental space while the master planning process is ongoing. "If the council decides to not move forward, (they'll) sell it or use it for some other purpose in the interim, but I don't think a formal option has been placed on the table yet."

Recreation Director Scott Barnard seemed open to the idea, saying it would open up administrative space for programs. The additional space on the ground floor could compliment the department's other rental space, the Herman Park Center Grey Room, as it is heavily used.

"It's used a lot for meetings and everything from wine and cheese socials ... to weekly Kiwanis group meetings," he said. "That one space is used by everybody for everything."

Ms. Logan said a study last summer showed the conference room and downstairs space made the building's square footage similar to the Wayne Center.