Though work is already underway behind the scenes, construction on the Ben Hur project will officially begin by the end of the year under an agreement signed Monday.
The agreement among the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, project developer AP Development and its subsidiary Ben Hur LLC sets the start date no later than New Year’s Eve to renovate the long-vacant downtown office space into a hotel and concierge apartment building.
Developers will have until Dec. 31, 2024 to complete the project or may face a fine of $50 per day, the agreement states.
AP Development first gained ownership of the building at the corner of East Main and South Water streets in August 2019 and was ready to begin construction when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Crews have been working inside the building.
“If you go by there at the right time, you’ll see people in and out. You’ll see the architect in,” commissioner Jim Fulwider said.
“This is the best opportunity we’ve had, I believe, and I’m just excited to see it move forward,” he added.
In other business, commissioners:
• Awarded the bid for the highway department salt barn project to Greystone Construction Co. in the amount of $196,890 and gave notice to proceed. Greystone was the lowest bidder.
• Established an unofficial local detour for the closure of State Road 25 over Coal Creek during the bridge project. The unofficial detour is on C.R. 1125N — C.R. 950W.
The state has agreed to reimburse the county for repairing damage caused to the roads by the diverted traffic. The estimated cost is nearly $5,000.
The official posted detour follows State Road 28 to State Road 341 to State Road 55 and back.
• Appointed Bob Campbell to serve on the Montgomery County Plan Commission. Campbell replaces Aaron Morgan, who resigned from the board last week.
In an email to county officials, Morgan said he was “very pleased with the direction our county is heading,” but looks “forward to spending more of my free time with my family and serving our community in other ways.”
Campbell has resigned from the Alcoholic Beverage Board in order to fill Morgan’s seat.