Students to unveil plans for old City Hall

Published 4:45 am Thursday, November 11, 2010

Contributing Editor

Adaptive reuse proposals for Washington’s old City Hall are scheduled to be presented next week.
Several East Carolina University students have been assigned to develop usable plans to give Washington’s old City Hall a virtual makeover. Those plans will be unveiled from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Washington Civic Center.
Hunt McKinnon, an assistant professor in ECU’s Department of Interior Design and Merchandising, recently met with city officials and members of the Washington Harbor District Alliance and Washington Area Historic Foundation to develop a blueprint for the project. McKinnon and several of his students visited old City Hall late last month, with students taking measurements and closely examining the structure
The ECU students will present their designs by using architectural layouts and wall elevations.
The ECU class involved with the project is offered in two sections this semester, with each section instructed to take a different approach regarding use of old City Hall. One section has been told to develop a plan that calls for retail space on the building’s first floor and apartments on the second floor. The other section has been charged with developing plan that incorporates offices and a Harbor District visitors center on the first and second floors, a computer-ready location and classroom space that could be used by local educational institutions to assist with off-site learning programs.
“Besides giving the ECU students a hands-on practical exercise in planning and design, the designs will be available as suggestions for future development of the property. The City of Washington and the WHDA Economic Restructuring committee are currently in meetings and are developing requirements for an RFP bid process on the structure,” reads an e-mail from the Washington Harbor District Alliance to several media outlets.
Recently, the city spent about $18,000 to maintain the building, which it owns. Old City Hall is on the west side of North Market Street between Main Street and Second Street.
Several city officials are expected to attend at least one of the two sessions, said Beth Byrd, WHDA’s director, in a brief interview Wednesday. John Rodman, the city’s planning and development director, plans to attend both sessions.
Rodman said he hopes the ECU students’ work will “show us some uses the building can be used for and then we, in turn, can use those uses to help market the building.”
During the City Council’s Aug. 23 meeting, City Manager James C. Smith told the council there are “a number of developments there” in regard to old City Hall. Smith said a developer expressed interest in acquiring the property. The developer, later identified as Rehab Builders, expressed interest in placing two retail shops in the ground floor of the building and two apartments upstairs in the building, according to Smith
At its Aug. 23 meeting, the council indicated it planned for the city to sell the property by using the upset-bid process.