Plans to convert the VFW building in Hendersonville into a multi-functional community center are underway, and Asheville-based McMillan Pazdan Smith has been hired for the renovations, which will cost between $ 2-4 million.
“We asked the architect to do some preliminary plans and a cost estimate of what it would take to make the proposed improvements,” said Henderson County Board of Directors chairman Bill Lapsley. “This estimate is due here at any time, possibly within the next 30 days.”
Lapsley said McMillan Pazdan Smith should “walk around the building and define the scope of use, the best way to use the building.”
While an official cost estimate is expected within the month, Lapsley said the renovations, which will include repairs or replacement of HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems, according to the county. Contract with the company, will not start for at least a year, as the commissioners seek to finance the project with money from the 2022-2023 budget.
The Council of Commissioners was approached in 2020 regarding the purchase of the building at 900 N. Main Street as a member of the Hedrick-Rhodes substation foreign war veterans were dwindling, Lapsley said.
“Over the years these veterans have passed away,” Lapsley said. “When the members died, they struggled to get enough money to keep the place open.”
Previous coverage: Henderson County seeks to purchase VFW building after COVID hits organization hard
Another difficulty hit the VFW when COVID-19 emerged in early 2020, forcing the organization to cancel public fundraising events and consequently disrupting its source of income.
“Right now, this VFW post is unlikely to ever reopen,” Commander Dean Allen wrote on Facebook in August 2020.
The county officially purchased the VFW building in April 2021 for $ 36,000.
“Its value is way more than that,” said Lapsley. “We were afraid that someone would buy it and destroy it, and we would lose some history.”
The value of the property was not available on the county’s online site property assessment tool.
The VFW did not respond to a request for comment on the purchase.
Following: Looking to 2022: Henderson County Director John Mitchell talks about priorities for the coming year
The North Main Street building was constructed in 1948 and was once the largest VFW chapter, Lapsley said, with 1,600 members. The post now has around 200.
The remaining members of the Hedrick-Rhodes post will still have meetings in the original building, Lapsley said. VFW memorabilia, such as a 48-star American flag that flew in Pearl Harbor, will also remain at 900 N. Main Street.
Related: Veterans Day: WNC veterans honored in ceremony with keynote speaker, readings and dedications
But the building will also host different events, Lapsley said. Local civic clubs will use the facility and Henderson County Veterans Services will move from their current location on the Spartanburg Freeway to the building after renovation.