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Winston-Salem's new government center


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County dedicates new government center building

Renovation gives purpose to former tobacco-manufacturing plant

By Michael Hewlett


The Forsyth County Government Center was once R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company's Building No. 12. (Journal File Photo)

In 1952, Beaufort Bailey spent the summer sweeping the floors and moving tons of tobacco from trucks in R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s Building No. 12 on Chestnut Street to earn tuition money for Winston-Salem State University.

Yesterday, Bailey once again stood in Building No. 12, which closed in 1990. It was the company's last downtown manufacturing plant. Now, Bailey is a Forsyth County commissioner, and the building has been renovated for use as the county's new government center.

"It's unbelievable," he said after he, along with his colleagues on the board, took large scissors to cut the red ribbon to officially dedicate the new building.

The renovated building looked far different from the place he remembered.

"I had no idea where I worked," Bailey said about the first time he saw the completed building.

The new center has a 250,000-square-foot, 280-space parking deck, individual offices for the county commissioners, and an atrium that filters light onto five floors. Another 244,000 square feet is office space and a common area.

The county set aside about 30,000 square feet for future growth.

Pete Brunstetter, the chairman of the commissioners, said that the board spent more than 10 years figuring out how to use the building. In 1990, the county bought four blocks of property, including Building No. 12, from Reynolds for $40,000.

Cost estimates for the project ranged from as little as $12 million to as much as $25 million over the years. The county ended up spending $27.5 million on construction, about 7 percent more than the $25.2 million in the contract. County officials said that extra money is within the limit set aside for the project. There have been about $2.3 million in change orders, said Ed Klevinski, the county's general-services director.

The total cost is about $32 mil-lion, which includes furnishings and other items, he said. County Manager Graham Pervier has said that it would have cost as much as $35 million to construct a new building.

At its regular meeting last night, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners elected Brunstetter as chairman and Dave Plyler as vice-chairman.

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I don't have any photos yet but its nice! Its definately more modern, attractive and state-of-the-art than the fortress style Greensboro Government center which was built in the late 1960s. Dont get me started on 1960's architecture :P

From what I saw on television, the new Winston-Salem Government center is even more modern and attractive than the one in Charlotte. Its quite amazing that its a renovation of an old tobbaco factory. I think Charlotte is planning to build a new center. Am I correct?

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