As the Town of Davidson has grown, so have the police and fire departments and the rest of the town staff. That’s putting a squeeze on space at Town Hall. Town leaders now are proposing to solve that problem by taking over the former Davidson IB School on South Street for town offices and expanding the existing Town Hall for the public safety departments.
Altogether, the projects will cost about $15 million, which would need to be approved by voters in a bond referendum this November.
A public hearing on the proposed “Public Facilities Project” is planned at the Davidson Town Board meeting Tuesday, July 24, at 6 p.m., at Town Hall, 216 S. Main St. The town board is expected to vote on to put the bonds on the ballot at a meeting in August.
The new facilities plan replaces an earlier proposal to build a new town hall as part of mixed-use development on the Town Hall site.
RENOVATING THE OLD SCHOOL
The IB school building on South Street is owned by Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. It was built in 1948 after a fire destroyed the previous school on the site. It was Davidson Elementary School until the early 1990s, when the current Davidson Elementary opened farther down South Street. Then it served as Davidson International Baccalaureate Middle School until CMS moved that program to Huntersville in 2011.
For the past four years, Lake Norman Christian School leased it, but that lease was not renewed in 2018. The Christian School moved out in June and will reopen this fall in new quarters at Christ Community Church on N.C. 115 in Huntersville.
The IB school has about 33,500 square feet on five acres at 251 South St. Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox said the town is negotiating with CMS for a free or no-cost lease, likely 40 years, with an option to buy the site.
CMS is considering leasing about 3,500 square feet in the former lunch room as offices for the North Learning Community.
The major issue with the IB School is the historic building’s condition. Assistant Town Manager Dawn Blobaum said about the half the proposed $15 million bond would go toward renovations, including new heating and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems.
The old school would become offices for the mayor and town manager and city departments, including planning, finance and parks & recreation. It also would include a new board room and community meeting spaces.
The old 1937 gymnasium behind the school would remain, and could be renovated in the future, according to town officials.
MORE SPACE FOR POLICE AND FIRE
Meanwhile, the Public Facilities Project also calls for renovating and expanding the existing town hall for the police and fire departments. A new one story addition at the rear would accommodate fire trucks, leaving existing space to be renovated for sleeping and meeting quarters. Space would grow from 6,000 square feet to 11,500 square feet.
The police department would grow from 3,000 square feet to 11,000 square feet. An addition on the south side of Town Hall would create a secure entryway known as a “sally port.” The addition would include increased evidence storage space.
COST TO TAXPAYERS
A bond issue is expected to require an increase in the town’s property taxes. Just how much depends on when and how soon Town Board members decide to issue both new bonds and those voters approved in 2017.
The town has published a chart of potential alternatives. If the board decides to hold off on issuing the 2017 bonds – for parks & rec and other needs – the $15 million new bonds would require a tax increase of 2.17 cents per $100 of valuation. That’s about $33 a year on a house valued at $150,000, or $109 on a $500,000 house.
The maximum impact would come if voters approve the new bonds and the board decides to issue both those and all the 2017 bonds. That would cost 7.06 cents per $100. That works out to $106 a year for a $150,000 house and $353 a year for a $500,000 house.
See the chart (PDF) for details and other possible scenarios. 072018 Davidson Town Facilities project and tax impact
Detailed information: http://www.townofdavidson.org/publicfacilities