The facade removal, which will reveal the original brick on the turn-of-the-century building, is expected to be complete in 30 days and is part of Cherokee County’s $1.8 million sale of the building to Atlanta-based developer Westbridge Partners. Cherokee County is footing the bill for the façade removal but will be reimbursed by Westbridge, which hopes to restore the downtown landmark and turn it into a mixed-use facility with retail and office space and a restaurant on the ground floor.
Canton Downtown Development Authority Chairperson Wanda Roach said Wednesday that the façade removal alone will help downtown Canton.
“I think this is just going to enhance the beauty of downtown,” Roach said. “In traditional, historic downtown Canton, I think this is going to add to the ambience.”
Westbridge’s plans for the property, which was also at one time the county administration building, will do even more for downtown, she said.
“We’re going to see a lot more people coming into the city,” Roach said. “I think it’s going to be wonderful. It’s going to make for a very bustling town, the town Canton used to be.”
Canton’s new Main Street Director Meghan Griffin, who also worked for the Cherokee Historical Society for a decade, said the redevelopment will give downtown a “glimpse” at its past days of activity.
“I think (resurgence is) just right on the horizon,” Griffin said Tuesday. “Over the years, I’ve seen tremendous changes for downtown.”
And coupled with the Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority’s work on the former Etowah Bank building on the other side of Cannon Park from the Jones Building, Griffin said more changes are on the way.
Canton DDA member Stan Rogers said Tuesday that the work on the Jones Building is long overdue.
“We’ve been having discussions (for some time) with a lot of people trying to get things done there,” Rogers said. “This is the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of good people. We’re really proud to see it.”
Before the announcement of Westbridge’s plans to purchase the building, Rogers said he and other members of the DDA went to Atlanta with Cherokee County Manager Jerry Cooper to tour one of the company’s other developments, which was also a restoration of a historic structure.
“The work they did there was phenomenal,” Rogers said. “It looked really good.”
Rogers said if Westbridge brings the same “vision” and “level of commitment” he saw at the Atlanta restoration to the Jones Building, the development will make a “huge difference” for Canton.
As part of the sale of the building, which Cherokee County purchased from the Jones family in the mid-1980s, the county will also work inside the building, removing fixtures and non-load-bearing walls to get the structure ready for the developer.
Matt Williams, property management director with Cherokee County, said Tuesday the interior work will be completed by county workers and inmates from the county jail and is expected to begin shortly after the facade removal is complete.