Cedartown commission votes to approve purchase of old Southcrest Building on West Avenue, will look to have Historical Society museum move in

By: Kevin Myrick (Polk County Standard-Journal)

The City of Cedartown is looking to purchase a property they hope to convert to a more useful space, this time on West Avenue.

The commission voted 3-1 to move forward on negotiations for a sale, with a price to be finalized and announced once those are concluded according to City Manager Bill Fann.

Commissioners voted on the deal to purchase the old Southcrest Bank building across from West Cinema at 117 West Ave., which was also once home to the First National Bank of Polk County.

Jordan Hubbard, who was one of two commissioners to oppose the purchase of the old hospital that is now One Door Polk, also cast a no vote against the deal.

“I’m not opposed to the idea whatsoever for a non-profit or anyone else using that building,” Hubbard said. “The city being a landlord, I just don’t agree with.”

Commission chair Larry Odom said the city is looking to make the purchase with the help of Tripp Foundation funds as well as some city funds.

The plan for the new property purchase, Fann said, is to move the Cedartown Historical Society’s museum out of Hawkes Library on College Street and into the old bank building.

Fann said the Hawkes Library, which is not Americans with Disabilities Act compliant because it doesn’t have an elevator, forces a lot of potential museum visitors away. That includes students from local and area schools, and senior tour groups who might want to see what Cedartown’s history has to offer.

A study was done to figure out how much it would cost to bring the building up to code, and with design costs and construction all totaled, the cost would have been $340,000.

Instead, the city will spend $250,000 with hopes of help from the Tripp Foundation who Fann is meeting with later this week, to purchase the building and move the Historical Society to the new location.

Fann said that included with the building purchase are five other parcels, including the drive thru bank teller locations and ATM, two vacant properties, and two parking lots.

With repairs to the parking lots and minor renovations required inside, Fann said he expects the costs to come in well under what the city would have spent for upgrading the Hawkes Library building.

Additionally, Fann points out that with more space at the bank building, they’ll be able to show off more of their collection of items than they currently can.

“It’s a great opportunity for the Historical Society, with the potential for the museum to get a lot more use and visitors with the facility remaining in the downtown area,” Fann said.

He added that the Hawkes Library will continue to be maintained by the city, and used by the Historical Society for their archives, geneaology studies and those who wish to use the location for special events.

With the addition of five other parcels, two parking lots included in the purchase, Fann said it can also be used for public parking overflow for the forthcoming Lankford Events Center and the Cedartown Performing Arts Center, and for general use during special events and during the day.

However those parking lots will have to be resurfaced and striped to bring them up to city standards, Fann said.