CANTON — Downtown Canton could soon see a big change as Cherokee County begins work to remove the stucco facade from the historic Jones Building as part of a sale of the turn-of-the-century edifice to an Atlanta-based developer.
On Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners will consider bids for the work to peel away the stucco to reveal the original brick and the wood-framed windows on the former mercantile store now being sold to developer Westbridge Partners, said Cherokee County Manager Jerry Cooper. After approval by the Board of Commissioners, work is scheduled to begin Sep. 2 and will take 30 days to complete, Cooper said.
Cooper said bids for the renovation on the downtown Canton staple, which the county purchased in the mid-1980s, recently came in lower than originally expected.
“The low bid was $179,000,” he said. “But we anticipate the base bid plus contingencies will total approximately $225,000.” That number is between $25,000 and $50,000 below estimates, Cooper said.
The price of the removal of the facade will be reimbursed by the purchaser as part of the acquisition of the building, according to terms of a letter of intent signed by the county and the developer of the project.
In July, Cooper announced that the county was working on a deal to sell the 40,000-square-foot former county administrative building for $1.8 million to Westbridge Partners, which hopes to restore it to its former appearance and bring in a wide variety of tenants. The Board of Commissioners will also likely consider the final purchase agreement for the sale during its meeting Tuesday, Cooper said.
For the developer, removing the stucco facade from the building is important not only for aesthetics but also to help the building be approved as a historic preservation tax incentive project.
Chris Faussemagne, founder of Westbridge Partners, said in July the firm plans to renovate the building and make it a multi-tenant, mixed-use facility with retail, office space and a restaurant on the ground floor. This variety of applications on the aged landmark could give Canton’s center a much-needed boost in activity, Faussemagne said.
Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood agrees.
“We’ve been working on trying to get something done on that building for a long time,” he said. “This will be something that I think will really help downtown.”
During the 30-day process of removing the façade, Cooper said downtown Canton will see some impact from the work.
“The parking spaces around the facility will be closed during construction, including the front entrance between the building and (Cannon Park), as well as parking spaces on North Street and Main Street for the full length of the building,” he said.
Faussemagne said Westbridge Partners’ renovations could start in late 2013 or early 2014.