There’s a reason Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner likes to develop partnerships with local businesses and the community to preserve and improve local buildings and historical landmarks. In her opinion, these partnerships work to everyone’s benefit.
“Good things happen when we partner and we share,’’ Warner said. “They do things we couldn’t afford to do.”
In defense of her position, she cited a number of projects during her tenure as a town leader that in her opinion have been win-win situations.
Old Town Hall
At the top of the list is old Town Hall in the heart of the downtown area, which some years ago was converted into an office complex by Dr. Eric Raynor.
“Dr. Raynor was not only able to maintain the building; he’s refurbished it,’’ Warner said. “He’s added a lot of mill work and put in an elevator to make it handicapped-accessible.’’
There’s a placard on the outside of the building that gives a brief account of its history along with pictures inside of the bygone era in Hope Mills.
“It’s an old building that looks new because of what he’s done to maintain and refurbish it,’’ she said.
The Eddie Dees Building
Just across the street from old Town Hall on Main Street is the Eddie Dees Building, which was purchased by Jeff Gram, a close friend of the late mayor and an entrepreneur who is involved in a number of professional ventures.
The building has been home to several businesses over the years until Gram converted it into a combination of shops and office spaces.
“It was very appropriate he named it after Eddie Dees because Eddie was influential in helping him acquire that property,’’ Warner said. “He completely redid the building and rents it now.
“If it hadn’t been redone, it would have become another building that was dilapidated. It would have cost a good bit to update and upgrade it, but someone like him who had the money and interest in old buildings was able to do it.’’
First Citizens Bank
A little farther down Main Street from Old Town Hall and the Dees Building is First Citizens Bank.
Before the bank took over, the property wasn’t terribly attractive. First Citizens agreed to a partnership with the town. The bank tore down the structures on the property, built a new bank that reflected the architecture of the mill period of the early 1900s, and added a paved parking lot that it agreed to share with the town.
“We ended up with a municipal parking lot and an area that is very well landscaped,’’ Warner said. “They also gave us $20,000 to landscape and upgrade the land right across the street from there so it could be matching.’’
Plank Road weaves through various parts of Hope Mills, including an area off Golfview Road where it ran perilously close to the backyards of residents.
Warner said the road was difficult to maintain because of the homes, so the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners decided to close it and give the property to the homeowners there.
“Now the homeowners don’t have to worry about people cutting through there and they were given an extension of their backyard,’’ she said. “Most are very happy because it stopped a lot of traffic.’’
State Employees Credit Union
At least three houses had to be torn down to build the State Employees Credit Union on Main Street, but Warner said the people who sold the property were excited and the town also wound up a winner.
“We got a tastefully designed building with landscaping and signage that’s very discreet and very pretty once the building was built,’’ she said.
“SECU keeps the landscaping beautiful and it’s a pretty corner.’’
Public Works Commission
The town of Hope Mills has continued to grow, and Warner knew a time was coming when the town wouldn’t be able to maintain the infrastructure it needed to expand water services.
Enter the Public Works Commission, which came in and purchased the water and sewage system.
“They have replaced a lot of old pipes and stuff that had been there for a long time,’’ she said. “It makes sense that we can use PWC and they take care of the infrastructure needs for us. And it saves us dollars.’’
The old Senior Center became a problem for the town because of its somewhat isolated location. It wasn’t available for use for night events for the seniors. Eventually it was given to the town, and the town invested money into the property for upkeep.
Finally, the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars offered to buy the building as its headquarters and struck a deal with the town as a nonprofit organization to pay $50,000, the amount of money the town had spent on upkeep.
The VFW named the building for one of its members, former Mayor Edwin Deaver.
Although the building was listed as an asset on the town books at $250,000, Warner said the town never actually had that money in the bank, and got back the $50,000 it put into the building when it sold it.
Now the VFW pays utilities and upkeep on the building, and Warner is certain if the town needed it for any kind of function they would be able to work out an agreement with the VFW.
The Senior Center activities have been moved to Town Hall. There, they have their own remodeled room at the Parks and Recreation Department plus easier access to the gym and its facilities.
“There’s a positive side to all of it,’’ Warner said. “I just want things to be positive.’