Future DMV headquarters

Work continues on the future headquarters of the state Division of Motor Vehicles along North Church Street.

Has the coronavirus put on hold the transformation of the former Hardee’s corporate headquarters complex into the future state Division of Motor Vehicles headquarters?

If your answer is no, then you are correct.

“The work never stopped,” DMV spokesman John Brockwell said on Thursday in response to emailed questions about the status of the complex along North Church Street.

Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Farris on Thursday said, “We see a good summer for Rocky Mount.”

Mayor Sandy Roberson on Thursday spoke of the potential of local residents filling positions vacated by DMV workers who choose to transfer to other state agencies or who are close to retirement age.

Roberson also said his understanding is that there are DMV jobs offering what would be quite good pay in the Rocky Mount area.

Roberson emphasized another thing he is elated about is that the relocation of the DMV perhaps creates opportunities for other state agencies to relocate to Rocky Mount.

Roberson cited the proximity of Rocky Mount to Raleigh and the relatively low costs of operations in Rocky Mount compared to some of the places in Raleigh.

Roberson said that in Rocky Mount, “The doors are open and we’re open for business.”

Of the coming of the DMV headquarters to Rocky Mount, Roberson said, “This is exciting news and I think we should celebrate it.”

“I think it’s fantastic,” he said.

The General Assembly requires a process for relocating the DMV from the present headquarters along New Bern Avenue in Raleigh because of health and safety issues beyond the state’s control.

Gov. Roy Cooper, as North Carolina’s top official, on Dec. 18 signed a 15-year lease with the landlord for the Rocky Mount location, sealing the deal on what had been the most competitive of 10 site proposals.

Work at the future North Church location began on Feb. 10. DMV officials have said business units will be moving in when their respective work spaces are complete.

Brockwell said the plan remains for the first move-in to begin this summer. Farris said the relocation will be in phases, as different parts of the operation are ready and the technology to transfer is ready.

The Telegram asked Brockwell whether there are discussions or talks with any agency about mass transporting workers from the Raleigh-Durham area to the Rocky Mount area in a weekday daily commute.

Brockwell said DMV is in discussion with the Durham-based GoTriangle, the Rocky Mount-based Tar River Transit, the Rocky Mount-based Carolinas Gateway Partnership and the Rocky Mount Area Chamber about regional transportation.

Farris said, “We have been working on it for a period of time now,” and emphasized there is a greater picture because a lot of people who live in the Research Triangle Region work at a variety of businesses in the Rocky Mount area.

Farris also noted the Kingsboro Business Park will be coming online just off U.S. 64 between Rocky Mount and Tarboro.

Farris also noted a lot of people in the Rocky Mount area work in the Triangle region and spoke of developing transport hubs in the future where riders can switch from one vehicle to another.

“The vision is we can serve more than DMV and make it a little bit easier,” Farris said.

The former Hardee’s complex dates as far back as 1967.

After Hardee’s was sold to CKE Restaurants Holdings in the late 1990s, the headquarters was moved to Missouri and later to Tennessee.

In 2000, what was Centura Bank signed a long-term lease for the complex.

Even after Centura Bank was acquired by RBC Bank and RBC’s U.S. headquarters moved to downtown Raleigh in 2005, RBC kept much of the back-office functions in Rocky Mount.

PNC Bank acquired the U.S. retail side of RBC Bank and continued to use the site until the expiration of a lease in 2016.