CANTON — On top of the coming renovations to the historic Jones Building, downtown Canton will soon see even more change with the Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority relocating much of its operations to the former Etowah Bank building on West Main Street.
CCWSA is expected to complete its renovations on the 1,600-square-foot building in February and move in about 60 employees to work at what will be the company’s customer service center, said Dan Carson, construction design and inspection coordinator at the Water Authority.
Carson said once the work wraps up, the Water Authority will keep its office further down on West Main Street open, but plans to discontinue use of several field offices around the county. The construction is not expected to impact traffic, Carson said.
The two-story building built about 1970 was purchased by the Water Authority for $1.05 million in 2012 after its last tenant, Regions Bank, shut down in December 2011.
“Originally, we had a budget for around $8 million, and the intent was to move over closer to the interstate,” Carson said. “By the time we bought the land and built the building, we would’ve been way up there (in cost).”
But when the building in downtown hit the market, Carson said the Water Authority liked the idea of saving the cash and being in downtown Canton.
“The convenience of it being downtown is a big plus,” he said.
As part of the overhaul, which is costing the authority $1.157 million in reserve funds, Carson said the inside of the building will be gutted to install offices and a newly designed customer-service lobby.
Although construction crews are doing away with many of the fixtures in the former bank, Carson said some of the old features are coming in handy.
“One big reason we got this building is we actually have (the bank) vault and two large fire-proof rooms upstairs,” he said. CCWSA plans to make use of the storage areas for documents and other items, Carson said.
Another leftover benefit from the building’s days of bank operations, the drive-thru window, will also stay and be used to take customer payments, Carson said. Originally, the drive-thru had four lanes, but three are being removed to add additional parking.
Like the nearby Jones Building, Carson said CCWSA’s new location is set to look much different from its current state.
“We are changing the entire facade on the outside,” he said. “That is what everybody complained about the most, how old and ugly the building was.”
Carson said the Water Authority hopes the new look and foot traffic it will bring will contribute to getting downtown back on its feet. Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood said it likely will.
“The building is getting a sizeable face lift,” Hobgood said. “It will certainly revitalize downtown.”
Hobgood said with the Water Authority’s new location and Atlanta-based developer Westbridge Partners’ plans to restore the Jones Building, downtown Canton might just be heading for better days.
“Things are happening downtown now,” Hobgood said. “It’s a beginning, I’ll tell you.”