After weeks of meeting and planning, members of a group trying to save the old Evans School Teacher’s Cottage say prospects to move the building to another location look grim.
Donna Anderson, the daughter of the property owner, said Monday the group has not been able to secure a company to move the historic structure before the sale closing date, which is Friday.
Anderson’s mother, Rachel Robertson, ran Strictly Country out of the building for 25 years until she retired in 2012.
Robertson is selling the property to make way for a PDQ restaurant, a Tampa, Fla.-based restaurant that specializes in chicken tenders. Company officials said they hope to open the Evans location by this summer.
Anderson said committee members have a place to move the building, on Columbia County Board of Education property near the old Columbia Middle School, and have secured enough money to relocate the building. The problem is they can’t move the building this week.
She said that committee member Billy Jackson Jr. has managed to find a company that will do the job, but the timeline isn’t good.
“The earliest a mover can be contracted is in the middle of April,” she said. “I guess the question becomes at closing, ‘Can PDQ wait or not wait?’”
The small white clapboard and stone building at North Belair and Washington roads, once served as a teachers’ dormitory when children attended the Evans School across Washington Road, which is now occupied by Home Depot. Committee members had hoped to rescue the building – the last vestige of the old Evans community – from demolition.
Columbia County Commissioner Bill Morris has offered to allocate some of his discretionary money toward saving the building, if a plan can put in place.
PDQ officials have said they also were willing to chip in. Anderson said the company has made a generous offer to donate what it would cost to demolish the structure, or perhaps more, to the moving effort. But that was provided they could move it before the closing date, Anderson said.
PDQ officials did not return calls seeking comment Monday.
The 4,300-square-foot PDQ, or People Dedicated to Quality, restaurant will employ about 75 people and include a drive-through window, an indoor dining section and
either sunroom or outdoor patio seating.
Committee members have estimated costs to move the building to be between $125,000 and $150,000. Money left from moving the Evans School columns and arch could be used to assist with the project, but officials still would need to allocate funding to maintain the structure, Anderson said.