LAURINBURG — The W. Charles Barrett Building is history.
The structure that once housed the city of Laurinburg’s administrative offices — and the became the focal point of a dispute over the new City Hall — came down Tuesday morning.
The West Church Street lot, now surrounded by dark fencing, will be cleared by lunchtime on Friday, officials said.
The city demolished the Barrett Building — with plans to also raze the adjacent municipal building — to construct a $9.1 million facility to house all municipal offices and police station under one roof.
A group calling itself the Super Majority for Saving the Barrett Building had formed earlier this year with the prospect that it might take legal action over plans to level the building. No court action was taken, but the group continued to voice their opposition.
A group of residents opposed to the demolition held a prayer vigil last week near the site.
Pastor Michael Edds, one of the people who has spoken out against demolition, called this morning’s action “tragic.”
“It just saddens me,” Edds said. “I wish they had waited until after the election to make a decision. If the majority of voters selected the challengers, that would mean they didn’t want that building torn down. If the incumbents were voted back in, the building could come down then. There would be less hard feelings.”
City officials have argued that staff has long since outgrown the early 1950s-era building on Church Street that currently houses the Laurinburg Police Department, the city’s finance department and utilities collections, and the city council’s meeting chambers.
The Barrett Building, which houses other city departments — human resources, development, and the city manager and city clerk is even older and in worse shape, according to council members. The former church parsonage, constructed in the 1930s, was named in the mid-90s after W. Charles Barrett, one of the longest serving mayor in Laurinburg’s history.
The administrative offices were moved into the Sanford Building in June.
The demolition of the Barrett Building marks the first official step in construction. In total, the construction will be handled by 24 individual sub contractors, all being directed by Ediface.
According to City Manager Charles Nichols, the new City Hall-police department project will be completed in late December 2018 to early January 2019.
Once construction is complete, city workers and police will relocate into the new facility. At that point, the old Laurinburg Municipal Building will be demolished and turned into the facility’s parking lot.
Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023