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Walker-Grant fix could cost $9.7 mil
Fredericksburg City Council, School Board discuss future renovation or construction needs at Original Walker-Grant School

 Fredericksburg Schools Director of Operations Bob Burch (background) leads City Council and School Board members around the original Walker-Grant School earlier this month.
FILE/PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 10/27/2010

By KELLY HANNON

Investing $8 million to $9.7 million to renovate the original Walker-Grant School in Fredericksburg could extend the building's life for another half-century, according to an architectural assessment.

Members of the Fredericksburg City Council and Fredericksburg School Board met jointly last night to hear renovation and reconstruction options for the original Walker-Grant from Moseley Architects.

The school property on Gunnery Road includes two buildings, one built in 1935, and another built in 1951. The buildings house early childhood, special education and alternative education programs and are used for community events.

The renovation and reconstruction plans affect only the 1951 building.

Under one scenario, the city could spend an estimated $9.7 million to renovate the 1951 building, gutting it and installing a new roof, and mechanical and electrical systems. The renovation would preserve the building's gymnasium and auditorium.

If the project qualifies for Virginia tax credits, the renovation price could fall to $8 million, said Doug Westmoreland of Moseley Architects.

Razing the school and building a new one in its place would cost an estimated $11.9 million.

Based on the space needs of the programs expected to use the facility, the new school would be 43,116 square feet, with a smaller gymnasium and no auditorium.

Renovation would maintain the school's existing 50,777 square feet and add 1,750 square feet at an entrance, helping to ease the building's circulation of students and others, Westmoreland said.

"I've been in a lot of schools in my life. This is one of the most confusing I've been in," Westmoreland said.

Fredericksburg Schools Superintendent David Melton said the School Board hasn't discussed the options yet, but it may seek to include the project in its capital request beginning in the year 2012-13.

Councilwoman Mary Katherine Greenlaw said opting to renovate the school appeared to allow the city to obtain more square footage for a lower price. Councilwoman Kerry Devine said renovation would also allow the building's design to be maintained, a factor potentially important to the community.

If the city pursues either option, completing the project could take several years. Designing the project could take eight months, followed by several months for project bids, and then 12 to 16 months for construction work, Westmoreland said.


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