Warlong building on its way to completion

The Warlong building at Conover Station is about four weeks behind schedule, but city officials say the setbacks are in part because of construction problems to the old building.

"The big thing is the complexity of the building," said Conover City Manager Donald Duncan Jr. "You have to open it up and discover how it was built."

The Warlong building was scheduled to be finished July 1, but the new completion date is Aug. 12.

Architect Don Tise, of Tise-Kiester Architects, said the building is about 95 percent complete. Tise said a finish date of Aug. 12 is more realistic for the project at this time.

"When Aug. 12 comes and construction is complete, what is the city going to get at that point?" asked Mayor pro Tem Kyle Hayman.

"A finished building with a (certificate of occupancy)," Tise said.

Tise said once the Warlong building is finished, the city can start moving in tenants, such as the Conover Library.

The city will have a one-year warranty with the contractor to fix anything wrong with the building once a certificate of completion is given. Tise said a completion certificate isn't signed over to the contractor until the city is completely satisfied with the work and the contractor fixes any problems found by city staff.

Tise also reassured city council that a 10-percent retainage is held from the total cost for the contractor until all the work is completed.

Councilman Joie Fulbright insisted Tise make sure the contractors are on schedule and the delay lasts no longer than four weeks. Fulbright said council has to watch out for its citizens and doesn't want to see money wasted.

"It will be no longer than four weeks," Tise said.

Duncan said city officials "pride themselves" in staying on schedule.

"It's our duty to make sure the project is on task," Duncan said.

"Council wants to make sure the citizens are protected. It's the architect's job to stay on task."

In addition to making sure the historic building meets today's building codes, Duncan said other delays came with the installation of the phone service to test the elevator system; demolition of the finishing building and clearing of the debris; and the Warlong building inspection.

Warlong Building
Conover Station will consist of the Warlong building, which residents and passers-by on N.C. 16 can see from the road. This three-story building will house the Conover Library, a community room, Greenway Transit Authority administrative offices, a cafe and an outdoor patio with tables for visitors. In addition, Duncan said the N.C. Department of Transportation purchased a portion of the second floor, where Conover hopes to start a train depot. Until a depot opens, Duncan said the space can be used by the public for meetings.

The cost for the first phase of the Warlong building is estimated at $2.1 million, and the project's second phase is about $1.1 million. The second phase includes a rail platform, pedestrian bridge and ramp.

Conover City Council decided to make the Warlong building LEED certified or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Duncan said plans are to have a gold rating on the building, but that will be determined by the amount of credits earned from making the building "green."