Albemarle Council selects NJR Group for construction of alleyway project

The Albemarle City Council has awarded NJR Group, a construction company based in New London, the bid to complete construction of the alleyway project which stretches from West Main Street to King Street. The council also approved a budget amendment, laying out in detail how the project will be funded.

The alleyway project, which was first introduced a few years ago, will become a pedestrian plaza with seating for outdoor dining and casual gathering. It will include overhead string lighting and decorative poles and green space, including planters that can be adjusted for the seasons. During a council meeting in June 2021, other amenities that were discussed included artificial turf with cornhole boards and a giant, brightly-colored mural on the side of one of the buildings.

NJR Group came in at the lowest bid of $837,595, which is a revised amount from the company’s original bid in 2021.

Although the city originally planned to complete the project in-house, with Public Works and Public Utilities leading the construction efforts, the council decided in November to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to contract out the majority of the project.

During its Nov. 28 meeting, the council approved utilizing $350,000 from ARPA funding to go along with the $547,000 already in the project budget.

The total project budget will be a little more than $1 million, which includes $98,000 previously funded from the city’s General Fund, $97,450 previously funded from the city’s Electric Fund and $5,000 from private grants, most notably through Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation.

As part of the city’s project team, Public Utilities director Jay Voyles will serve as the coordinator between the city staff and NJR Group and Assistant City Manager Darren Rhodes will serve as project manager, providing regular status updates to the council.

The council also agreed to make a decision on the official name of the project within the next month, as several designations have already been utilized.

“We’ve called this alleyway three different things,” Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Sue Hall said. “It’s the Alleyway, it’s the King Alleyway and then it’s the Falcon Alleyway.”

Since the alleyway is the last remaining street that circled Stanly County’s second courthouse, built in 1893 and originally located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Main and Second streets, where Courthouse Square Park now resides, Councilman Chris Bramlett said the name should “reflect that in some way.”

“Let’s make sure we get this thing right,” Bramlett added.