GASTONIA – The city of Gastonia is moving forward with a plan to build a $10 million conference center, despite the recession. City planners say now is the perfect time because interest rates are at record lows, and construction costs are down.
Gastonia city leaders were so excited at the groundbreaking for the new conference center that they kept digging.
"Today the dirt is turned and this time next year we'll turn the key," said Gastonia Mayor Jennie Stultz.
A key that will not only unlock a $10 million building, but city leaders hope a brighter future for "The All American City".
"I think in five years we'll have a thriving downtown, I think people will be scrambling for space,” added Stultz. “Right now there's not a lot of space left. And it's still affordable."
Affordability is a main reason city leaders decided to act now on the decades old plan.
"The construction costs right now, because of the downturn, are as competitive as we'll ever see,” said Gastonia City Manager Jim Palenick. “So we're giving the greatest value to the citizens we possibly can by scheduling it now."
And Gastonia will capitalize on historically low interest rates.
The new building sits in the heart of downtown and is part of a plan to revamp the area. More restaurants and shops are moving in, bringing with them business the city wants and needs.
It's expected to take 12 months to build the two-story tall, 29,000 sq. ft. conference center. Gastonia leaders say a hotel hospitality tax should pay for the construction costs.