ROCKINGHAM — The Food King project comes closer to completion with the approval of a flooring contract with a local builder.
The Rockingham City Council on Tuesday gave a collective nod to a $566,990 deal with Southern Builders to demolish and replace the flooring of the former downtown grocery store property on East Washington Street.
City Manager Monty Crump said Southern Builders had the lowest bid, with another local firm, Hawks Builders, coming in second-lowest at $625,944.
Crump told Councilman Gene Willard that “these prices are good,” considering the increasing costs of lumber and steel, adding that those bid estimates were only good for a limited period of time.
The job is estimated to take 14-16 weeks to complete.
This would complete the second phase of the project and allow the city to move into the final phase, according to Crump. He said the project could be paid for through the American Rescue Plan funds or the Urban Development Action Grant fund.
The UDAG fund was established after the federal government loaned money to a local industry for expansion in the 1970s. That money was then paid back to the city to use for loans to small businesses.
“I know it’s taken a while, but when you get the opportunity to get money from other sources to pay for it, where it doesn’t come out of the pockets of the local taxpayers, I think a little time spent getting funding together is a wise thing to do,” Crump said.
Mayor John Hutchinson agreed, reiterating that no local money would be used.
The issue wasn’t on the agenda, but came up during Crump’s comments.
However, earlier in the meeting, the council also approved an ordinance for the State Capital and Infrastructure Funds grant, which will go toward the project.
Crump said the city has already received the $300,000 allotted in the state budget, thanks to state Rep. Ben Moss.
The City Council approved the $60,000 purchase of the property in February of 2018.
Last October, Assistant City Manager John Massey presented to the council a concept that shows a space for a restaurant on the end near the parking lot, with space for an outdoor patio, as well as two other storefronts on the west side of the building.
Massey said it has been difficult to find a single potential tenant to occupy the 10,000 square-foot space, so the city asked the architect to divide the property.
The proposed restaurant space would be around 4,000 square feet. The other two spaces would be around 2,500 square feet, each.
Crump said at the time that the price tag for the repairs and up-fitting utilities is estimated to cost $2.5-3 million.
Late last year, the city took care of plumbing issues during a streetscape enhancement along the block.
The city also installed outlets in the parking lot for food vendors to use during — events like the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Getdown — to cut out generator noise.
Crump said in March that local contractor Hudson Paving had the low bid for a resurfacing job.