Visitor Center taking shape

Published 8:52 pm Saturday, June 26, 2010

Construction on the new Suffolk Visitor Center is nearing completion.

“It’s moving along pretty good,” said Gerry Jones, the city’s director of capital programs and buildings.

The old Nansemond County courthouse is being converted to the Suffolk Visitor Center, which will relocate from its current location down the street. The original stairs in the front of the building will be torn out to make way for accessible restrooms. The visitor’s lounge, gift shop and reception desk will take up the middle portion of the first floor, and the stairs and elevator will be located at the back. A mezzanine floor is being constructed on the back of the building to house mechanical and electrical equipment. On the second floor, offices for the Tourism Department will take up a majority of the space, along with a conference room on the wharf side of the building.

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Jones said problems with utility installation held up the project briefly, but it is now moving along again.

“There’s always little things we have to make adjustments for,” Jones said. “When you got old infrastructure in the ground like Suffolk … it’s just a lot of things in the ground that you didn’t necessarily know were there. That’s what makes it fun.”

On the outside of the building, new windows are being installed on the back wall, and a sign soon will go up out front. Inside the building, sheetrock installation and painting will begin “in the very near future,” Jones said.

“All of the heating and cooling equipment is in,” he said. “All of the main systems are in, and we’re starting to close up walls.”

The tourism department will begin moving into the building in mid-August, Jones said.