By MELINDA WILLIAMS
A consultant says refurbishing the Dalton building is a “visionary and attainable” project, but the town of Pulaski will have to find about $400,000 in funding to make it a reality.
“We’re about $400,000 short to submit a grant to the governor” for funds to “repurpose” the Washington Avenue building, Pulaski Economic Development Director John White told town council.
Therefore, he said, it is “critical” for the town to have conversations with the town and county Industrial Development Authorities and elected county officials to emphasize the importance of the project.
White says reviving the building should be important to the county as a whole because it could be a “game-changer” for the health of the county seat (Pulaski), by providing lodging and a restaurant for visitors coming off the New River Trail.
According to White and Vice Mayor David Clark, many trail users are inquiring about a place to eat and lodge when they come off the trail, which runs between Pulaski and Galax.
White said the fact the trail is bringing people into town “only underscores” the benefit of repurposing the building.
The town and county recently hired David Gall, owner of the architectural firm that developed plans for restoring the train station, to evaluate the Dalton building.
Gall presented the plan to council members Tuesday evening.
The building, across from Pulaski Post Office, has a tax value of $143,000, according to White. He said the owner is interested in conveying the building “to an appropriate entity.”
White said he found nothing surprising to him in Gall’s report, which indicated there is a “wealth” of retainable historic architecture in the building, a frame that is “largely in condition” and a floor plan that is “suitable for reuse.”
Mayor Jeff Worrell asked whether town council needs to take some action soon if the project is to be pursued.
White said it is time to use “the art of negotiation” to convince all parties of the importance of investing in the project, adding, “sometimes you have to spend money to make money.”
According to White, there is a good chance some money, an estimated $200,000, for assessment of the building can be obtained through the Brownfield Assessment and Industrial Revitalization Funds.
However, that would still leave the project about $400,000 short.
The 1921 building is on the National Historic Register.
White told council earlier this month that the building is reaching the point where it is going to be a liability to the town if it doesn’t have a new roof and stabilization soon, especially since it borders Peak Creek.
“The cost to demolish it would be much, much greater,” he added.
Mayor Jeff Worrell said this may be the last chance to save the building.
The former theatre area of the building collapsed in 1982 due to falling into disrepair.