Polk GOP plans for new building

Published 3:04 pm Monday, June 27, 2011

Architect’s drawing of the proposed new headquarters for the Polk County Republican Party, to be built in downtown Columbus.

Plans allow access to area businesses

A meeting on Thursday, June 22 indicated relationships between the Republican Party and Columbus businesses have improved.

At the meeting, Polk Republicans reviewed plans for the new Republican headquarters building on Peak Street in Columbus. Local business people have expressed concern in the past over some of the options for the building, which they said could cause problems with access to their businesses.

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Polk Republicans talked Thursday with local businesses that will be affected and showed how access to those businesses will be given.

Scott Woodworth, second vice-chair of the Republican Party and chair of the building committee, reviewed the site drawings for nearby business owners.

Woodworth said Republican officials tried to structure the new building on the lot so it would have the least impact on neighboring businesses.

He said plans initially were to construct the building toward the rear of the lot, but that would have affected businesses, and he said, “I wasn’t in favor of that.”

The building is now designed to be as close to the street as possible, according to the town’s zoning regulations, with parking in the rear. The town will require the building to have 11 or 12 parking spaces, according to Woodworth.

Access to the rear of other businesses provides 15 feet for utility trucks, including sanitation haulers and emergency vehicles.

Polk County Republicans, Columbus business people and town officials met Thursday, June 22 to review plans for a new Republican headquarters building in downtown Columbus. (photo by Leah Justice)

“We have a real sense of community,” said Woodworth. “The Republican party wants to include everybody in everything we do.”

Woodworth said when the Republican Party celebrates events, they want businesses to be included, and they also want to offer the building for other community events. He also said the Republican party wants to use local businesses, such as catering services, whenever possible.

“We want to have this building as part of the town,” said Woodworth. “The more people who can use it the better.”

Woodworth said he hopes the new building is finished by the end of November 2011. The metal building is currently in the engineering stages in Colorado, Woodworth said, and should take no more than four weeks to finish the engineering stage.

The plans will then go to Shelby, N.C., where blueprints will be drawn, which will be submitted to the town for approval. The town has already issued a zoning permit for the building.

Woodworth said in the meantime, bids will be sought. The first priority is to seek local contractors for the work, he said.

Woodward estimated construction should start in about two months. Construction of the metal structure will not take long, Woodworth said, but foundation and prep work to the site also needs to be done.

Other issues related to town parking were discussed during the meeting. Columbus Town Manager Jonathan Kanipe agreed to look into reopening some spaces previously closed off in front of the Bank of America building, directly across Peak Street from the Republican headquarters.

The Republican headquarter’s previous building, located on the same site, was condemned following a heavy snow in December 2009 that caused the roof to collapse. The building was torn down last year.

The former building was originally built to house the town’s post office in the 1950s-1960s. It was constructed close to the street and blocked a former town alley.

Access to the rear of businesses has been an issue for decades. At one time, the Polk Republican party erected a gate to block access.

“We appreciate your going over all this with us,” said Steps To HOPE Executive Director Rachel Ramsey. “I remember years ago (the Republican Party) putting up a gate. It caused a lot of ill will. We had a helpless feeling.”

Republican officials ensured businesses things are different now. They requested contact information from business owners so Republicans could alert them about construction schedules and when heavy equipment will be onsite.