ROCKINGHAM — The City Council has approved conditions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s loan to finance construction of RCC’s downtown campus, moving the project that much closer to its opening next fall.
The total loan will amount to $6.75 million and be allocated over the next three years, starting with $2.5 million for construction of the building. (The council met in a special session Thursday evening, after the Daily Journal deadline.)
City Manager Monty Crump said that although the city still had to jump through some legal hoops, BB&T had committed itself to providing all of the money to repay the loan. Earlier this month, the city awarded the construction contract for the project to the John M. Campbell Co., which submitted a $11,364,975 bid.
“This is extremely exciting,” Mayor Steve Morris said as he signed the letter containing conditions on the loan. “It’s going to expand the education opportunities for the kids of the Sandhills area.”
Morris noted that when the city brought in Discovery Place Kids to downtown Rockingham, eight locally owned businesses popped up around it.
“We anticipate similar or even better development based on (the new campus),” Morris said. “Discovery Place was the first step. This is a big step.”
Crump said that in addition to expanding educational opportunities, the downtown Richmond Community College campus would draw more traffic downtown, which would benefit economic development.
“It kills two birds with one stone,” he said.
In the next step of the process, the RCC campus will be on the state Local Government Commission agenda in October. The commission is expected to approve interim financing for the project.
Financing for the RCC building will come from a variety of sources. Grants from the Cole Foundation and the Richmond Community Foundation each contributed $4,202,500.
The Leon Levine Foundation contributed $1 million, and another $1 million came from RCC state bonds. A N.C. Department of Commerce grant for $94,340, a Cannon grant for $100,000 and the USDA loan of $2,531,217 make up the total $13,130,557 project price tag.
Demolition of the R.W. Goodman building at West Franklin and South Lee streets is set to begin soon. The campus will be built where the store now stands, occupying 44,000 square feet.
It will be named the Kenneth and Claudia Robinette Building, and will house the Leon Levine School of Business and Information Technology. Levine, a Rockingham native and founder of Family Dollar stores, also brought Discovery Place Kids to Rockingham.)
Classes are expected to begin there in fall 2019.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]