Six city departments will begin moving into the former Belk building at Metrocenter Mall this week.
Photo by Trip Burns.
The city will begin moving employees into Metrocenter Mall this week.
Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. presented a copy of an audit the City Council requested to show how developer Retro Metro spent $50,000 of the city's funds for new electrical and telecommunications wiring at the former Belk building.
After hearing from CPA Sammy Asemota, who performed the audit, no council members raised any objections. Council President Tony Yarber said because the council did not have any more discussion, the mayor was free to move forward with the project.
The mayor said the city will begin moving employees of six departments, including parks and recreation, human and cultural services, and water and sewer, into the mall this week. The move will take a couple of weeks to complete.
Socrates Garrett, one of three managing partners in Retro Metro, said the building was completed and ready for the move Oct. 29, the same completion date Retro Metro gave the council months ago.
The project was challenging, Garrett said. He hopes its completion will help him and his partners get more development jobs in the city.
Garrett and his partners, LeRoy Walker and Howard Catchings, are African American. Garrett pointed out to the council that local minorities led the entire project, from Retro Metro to the general contractor to sub-contractors.
Johnson presented copies of the audit to the council, but Ward 5 Councilman Charles Tillman, who has been one of the most vocal advocates of the audit, wanted to hear from Asemota.
Asemota said he talked to all three Retro Metro partners, reviewed their invoices and receipts for the rewiring, and walked through the building with an independent expert who understands the wiring process better than he does.
Tillman asked if Asemota talked to developer David Watkins, who left the project earlier this year to focus on the Farish Street entertainment district. Asemota said he did not talk to Watkins, but that he did review the receipts from Watkins' payments to the subcontractors for the project.
Asemota said he did not find any problems with how Retro Metro used the $50,000.