While the EDP partners have access to the buildings now, there is substantial work that must be done in several of the buildings. Lassiter said the primary goal is getting enough renovation work done for the groups to occupy the buildings.
Representatives from each of the four architectural firms have viewed the buildings and Lassiter said most of them said the $500,000 could be spent very quickly considering the amount of work that needs to be done while keeping historical preservation in mind. Lassiter said the top priorities are moving the agencies into the structures, then setting up conference space, which likely will be in the old schoolhouse building. Only 20 percent of the funds can be spent on professional services, such as architects fees.
“I don’t want to spend anywhere close to that,” Lassiter said. “We believe we will need assistance, but we want to be able to get the most bang for our buck.”
The overall plans are to renovate the buildings while retrofitting them with telecommunications upgrades, wireless Internet service and other technology.
Other goals for the park, if funds are still available, include installing new exterior lighting, upgrading the electrical infrastructure throughout the park and building a permanent pavilion in place of what originally was intended as a temporary stage.
The EDP and Boyle County Industrial Foundation will occupy one of the Fisher’s Row buildings, while the Chamber of Commerce will occupy another. A doorway will be installed between the buildings.
The Heart of Danville, and possibly a gift shop, will occupy the Goldsmith House where the park gift shop used to be.
Options for the Watts-Bell House include meeting rooms for clients and groups in the community who don’t have their own meeting space, as well as space for start-up businesses. The Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with the visitors center, will remain in Grayson’s Tavern.
Some work may take longer to complete, but Lassiter hopes organizations can move into their new homes in September. While that could be an ambitious goal, he believes the groups have prepared for such a long time, they will be ready to go whenever it is time to relocate and there should be minimal disruption to day-to-day operations.
The groups will not pay rent on the buildings but will pay utilities. He said some money that has gone toward lease payments at the McClure-Barbee House on Fourth Street will be collected in a fund to make future improvements to the buildings as needed.
The county obtained ownership of the park from the state in March and has begun doing maintenance work on the grounds.