County approves Kittrell conference center concept

The Vance County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the concept of a conference center in Kittrell proposed for constructed on land belonging to the North Carolina Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce spoke to county commissioners about the proposed conference facility, noting that it would be for the church and for the community. He claimed that the facility would attract use from the Research Triangle Park because of the rural setting and the recreational amenities that would be available.

Vance County Tourism Director Nancy Wilson was in attendance in support of the project, along with Dr. Sandra Sparrow, a director with the AME Church, John Wilson, a landscape architect with Kimley Horn & Associates, and Andre Wallace who was present representing the North Carolina Community Development Initiative headed by Abdul Rasheed.

Sparrow told commissioners that the AME Church purchased the Kittrell land in 1885 and located Kittrell College there until 1975. Since that time, the church has been working towards economic development and sustainable uses for the land.

The available tract is 15-20 acres. Currently, the Kittrell Job Corps is operated on the site of the now-defunct college.

Sparrow said that a 2006 survey among AME Church constituents determined that members would like a conference center, retreat, and hotel to meet AME Church needs.

Wilson said that his firm is working with Raven Architects and PKI Marketing to help to create a vision for the project.

A boundary survey is currently underway on the land.

Commissioner Deborah Brown said that she was “excited” when reading about the project, but wanted to know if the group desired financial support or concept support.

Edwards told Brown that no money was being requested, but added emphatically that the group wants “to get sewage out there”.

Member Terry Garrison thanked the AME Church for “staying with the concept” and the opportunity to encourage people to relocate [to Vance County].

A motion to support the project brought by Brown and seconded by Garrison received unanimous approval.