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Council budgets for projects

By Shannon Beamon Staff Writer

The preliminary price tag on Albemarle’s biggest ongoing capital project has been set. At their last meeting, city council members approved a project budget for the Albemarle Business Center, an economic development project that will turn a 282-acre property on U.S. Highway 52 Business South into a business park with spec buildings. While the budget for that multi-year project will have to be adjusted before it is completed, staff set the initial price tag for it at about $14.9 million. The latest piece of that was alloted to project planning. Council members approved a $62,500 contract with Chambers Engineering to develop a master plan for the site at the meeting as well. “We are not committing the entire ($14.9 million) now… basically this just establishes the account for it,” Mayor Ronnie Michael said. “This is a very large project. We know we’ll be phasing it in over many years.” Last year marked the start of that. About $1.8 million went into purchasing the property in 2017. Another $750,000 was granted to the project from the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority. Along with a $250,000 match from the city, that put another $1 million into the project. The city is hoping to fund the next stages of the project with loans, grants and in-house labor, the project budget noted. “This allows us to keep the ball rolling,” Michael said. At the same meeting, council members also set a price tag for another significant capital project: relocating the Albemarle Police Department headquarters. The move to 155 W. South St. — the former Bank of North Carolina building — will cost roughly $3.2 million, staff estimated. Spending on that also began last year. About $600,000 went into the purchase of the building in 2017. An architect and construction manager were hired for the project as well. Contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24, or