Two firms left as council moves forward
And then there were two. Hoping to finalize a town hall site and design by the end of the year, the Waxhaw town council narrowed the list of architecture firms to two during their Tuesday, Feb. 8 meeting. The Charlotte-based firms of Creech and Associates and the Lawrence Group were selected by a unanimous vote from a list of about eight. Over the last few weeks, the town council heard presentations from each of the firms.
“I don’t take this lightly,” Mayor Pro Tem Martin Lane said. “This will be the single largest check this town has written.”
Other commissioners said they were impressed with what Lawrence and Creech presented.
“I think there were a lot of awesome applicants,” commissioner Erin Kirkpatrick said. Kirkpatrick, who made the motion for both Creech and the Lawrence Group to be the finalists, said she felt those two groups handled the town’s needs.
“I thought (they were) firms that would help us with the larger process of planning,” Kirkpatrick said. “Presentation wise, I thought they were excellent.”
Earlier in the night, the council agreed that the architecture firm selected for the town hall also would be involved in helping to craft the downtown small area plan. Presentations from some of the other firms left questions if they would be able to handle such a task, Kirkpatrick said. The Gastonia-based firm of Stewart, Cooper, Newell, for example, had worked on the town’s space needs study less than three years ago, which called for a town hall meeting room that would hold a maximum of 68 people. Meetings in recent months have seen attendance figures over that number, so it would be a problem, Kirkpatrick said, to hire a firm to design a town hall expected to last decades when their estimates were low the first time.
“They were given an opportunity and I don’t think we’ll have a second chance with a town hall (unlike a study),” Kirkpatrick said.
Planning to find a town hall architecture firm has been a move months in the making. In August, the town sent out a request for proposals from architecture firms, with 19 groups responding. The council asked the staff to review the proposals and narrow the list for commissioners to consider. Staff used a list of 17 criteria, including the qualifications of the company and the company’s proximity to Union County, to rank the firms.
The two finalists, the Lawrence Group and Creech, seemed to get both the town’s desire to hold on to its heritage while moving forward at the same time.
“I found the ability to speak both those languages reassuring,” Mayor Daune Gardner said.
Town staff will schedule field trips for the council to see other projects designed by the two firms by March 1. The council will then be asked to select a firm for the project at its March 8 meeting.