Grantville residents weigh in on historic preservation projects

Kandice Bell / The Newnan Times-Herald

Grantville’s passenger depot has undergone exterior work, and the city is in the process of hiring a contractor to design the interior of the building.

Grantville residents are raising questions about the qualifications of contractors and whether to proceed with a project in the city’s historic district.

The Grantville City Council held two public hearings during its regular meeting Monday. The first was to solicit residents’ input on whether to hire Lord Aeck Sargent, a full-service architectural and design firm, to restore the city’s freight depot and the Sara O’Kelley Municipal Auditorium.

The second hearing addressed the approval of K.A. Oldham Design Inc. for interior design work at the downtown passenger depot.

City Manager Al Grieshaber said the city will apply for a Fox Theatre Institute grant to complete the auditorium and freight depot work.

Grieshaber said Grantville was fortunate to receive a bid from Lord Aeck Sargent. 

“They are a full-services arc firm with experience in historic renovation,” and a Fox Theatre Institute recommendation, Grieshaber said.

Grieshaber said Grantville must have an architect on board to apply for grants. The city manager said the architect’s mission will be to maintain a structure’s historic integrity while making it functional.

Former council member Selma Coty said she calculated costs at about $123,000 for the project. She asked about the city’s responsibility regarding subcontractors.

“They would prepare construction documents,” Grieshaber said. “If we want them to do contract administration, it’s $20,200. When you have construction documents, you can always bid them out.”

Grieshaber said the city decided to combine the auditorium and freight depot to possibly get reduced costs and that professional help was needed, citing the condition of the freight depot.

Jim Sells, former mayor, said restoring the auditorium could be a financial nightmare because of the condition of the building. Sells said the building has no bathrooms and hopes the city will reconsider if SPLOST funds must be used.

Mayor Doug Jewell said adding restrooms is part of the proposal.

Linda Dean, chairperson of the Historic Preservation Commission, said the commission would be taking classes to make sure “all ducks are in a row” to receive the grants. 

As far as the interior design of the passenger depot, Grieshaber said he sent a brochure from K.A. Oldham Design Inc. to the city council and the HPC because they wanted to see some of the company’s work.

Grieshaber recommended the company because of its lowest bid of $3,000.

Two additional proposals were submitted for interior design. One was for $15,000 from Preservation South LLC – which also was the construction manager for the exterior improvements of the depot. The third proposal was from Place Maker Design, which did not give a bid amount.

Coty referred to the bids as “apples and oranges” because of the difference in price.

“Other than elevations and a floor plan, what will they (K.A. Oldham Design Inc.) provide?” Coty said. “We all know what Mr. Campbell can do. He has done a great job with the outside of the building and will know what’s going on with the inside.”

Sandra Luttrell also asked what the company’s hourly fee was if other services were needed and asked if that bid could possibly equal the more expensive bid after paying the hourly rate.

Grieshaber was not aware of the hourly rate. 

Speaking specifically about the passenger depot, Grieshaber said, “We need a functional interior. Although it is a historical building, the interior will need to be a functional design, not just restoration.”

The city is expected to make a decision at its next meeting Sept. 10.

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