Carnegie building buzzing again

March 23, 2019

Moving back in

The historic Carnegie building, 607 Broad St., is once again a one-shop stop for locals who need to pick up building permits, ask zoning questions or seek financial assistance from either the Community Development office or Downtown Development Authority.

Problems with a leaky roof which resulted in mold problems forced the city to relocate several departments about 11 months ago. The Building Inspection, Planning, Downtown Development, Human Resources and Community Development offices moved to locations elsewhere in the city while the work which was originally supposed to take about six months was undertaken.

The rehabilitation of the century-old building also included installation of a new handicapped access ramp which allows wheelchairs to maneuver between the two parking lots that service both the Carnegie building and the City Auditorium.

“It’s absolutely wonderful to be back home,” said Megan Treglown, the marketing assistant in the Downtown Development office, said Friday afternoon. “It looks fresher. We have new flooring, not carpet, a fresh coat of paint and obviously the air is cleaner.”

The new laminate flooring and handicap ramp drew praise from Parking Management Director Becky Smyth.

Brittany Griffin, a planning specialist, said the restoration of the original flooring on the main level of the old building was pretty special to her as a historic preservation staffer.

“They really look good,” Griffin said.

It originally opened as a library in May of 1911. The original construction cost was $13,602. The city spent $660,000 on the renovation and fees associated with renting other office space in 2018. City Finance Director Sheree Shore said some bills for this year have not come in yet and could not say what the final cost for the repairs will amount to.

The Carnegie remained in use as a library until 1988 when the new library opened. A renovation of the building to accommodate the use of city staff was completed in 1991.

Artagus Newell, the planning director, said physically, there are not many changes.

“It’s just been freshened up a bit,” Newell said.

City employees took half a day off Thursday and all day Friday to complete the move from their various remote locations, but Newell said he wouldn’t be surprised if a number of employees came back in over the weekend just to make sure they know where everything is in their new, old offices.

Building Inspection Director Howard Gibson said getting all of the offices back under one roof will be the most important thing for people who need to do business with the city.

“The convenience is the best part,” Gibson said. “It’s taking a little time to get organized and find things, but other than that, it’s a good feeling.”