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Poff building renovations set to start in July in Roanoke

March 21, 2011|Elizabeth Harrington | Reporter

ROANOKE, Va — Construction on the Poff federal building in Roanoke is scheduled to begin around July 29.

On Monday, the city council and mayor got an update on the project from the General Services Administration.

Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator David Ehrenwerth said the $51 million project is moving forward.  He defended the project against critics and called the state of the building "almost shocking".

Ehrenwerth cited the building's sagging floors, water leaks and temperature issues among other problems. 

"The cost is less than half of what it would cost to replace it with a new building and in these economic times it doesn't make sense to do that," says Ehrenwerth, "The only other alternative is to do nothing and I don't believe that the front door to democracy, our federal buildings, should be run down."

The city council and mayor said the project was a win for Roanoke since it will add about 200 new jobs and boost the local economy.

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But Rep. Bob Goodlatte doesn't agree.  His office issued a statement on Monday. The congressman described the project as "wasteful" and he wants it stopped.

"The fact remains that the mounting data continues to reflect poorly on how GSA has handled this taxpayer-funded undertaking," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, "I strongly urge the GSA to discontinue the full contract for the project."

The Veterans Affairs office is located inside the Poff building.  Ehrenwerth says the office will be divided into four locations in downtown Roanoke during construction.

Renovations are expected to take three years to complete. The $51 million project will be paid using federal stimulus dollars.

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