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Commissioners hear of plans to repair, renovate VFW post

The cost for basic repairs to the VFW Post 5206 building would be just under $1 million while improvements for offices and social space to serve veterans would add more cost as well, an architect told the Board of Commissioners on Wednesday.

Architect Chad Roberson of the ClarkNexsen firm said his team had come up a three-pronged approach for stablization and then phase 2 and phase 3 to make a "complete renovation of the entire structure" at Five Points between Pop's Diner and Edwards Park.

The phase 1 stabilization would replace the front entrance,make the rear entrance handicap accessible, replace windows and doors, replace the roof and stabilize a slope in the back.

The Hedrick-Rhodes post, which has suffered financial problems and a decline in membership, approached the city of Hendersonville and later Henderson County about buying the building. County Manager Steve Wyatt and Commissioner Michael Edney proposed a renovation of the 10,000-square-foot building to serve veterans. The county Veterans Service office could move there and the building would still be available for VFW events such as meetings, dances and other social gatherings.

Cost of the phase 1 work would be $850,000 plus a contingency bringing the price in under $1 million, Roberson said.

In phase 2 and 3, contractors would replace the mechanical and electrical systems and plumbing and add new bathrooms, storage, a breakroom, offices, a social gathering area with a fireplace, a new elevator, a catering kitchen and a community room with collapsible walls. Roberson had not yet made a cost projection for the renovation. The study even recommended moving war memorials and historic markers from the Historic Courthouse to the VFW post grounds.

"There's some strange property lines around this building" that would require agreements with neighboring landowners for parking, including the Henderson County School Board.

Design and engineering would take 6-8 months and construction about the same, Roberson said. Wyatt said money for the work could come from the county's capital reserve fund, which currently has a balance of about $3.5 million.

Commissioners tentatively agreed last month to buy the property for $35,000 — a half million dollars less than the $535,000 list price last summer. The contract, if the commissioners ultimately approve it, also obligates the county to pay current and past due property taxes and “whatever debt the VFW has run up,” County Attorney Russ Burrell said.