SUMMERVILLE — Its use has yet to be determined, but the former National Guard Armory will soon get a nearly $4.2 million makeover.

“We are still in discussion about the actual use of this property,” Mayor Wiley Johnson said last week. “I don’t think that the citizens have really made up their minds about it, and I don’t want to force this down their throats as this being only a one-type use place.”

Town Council has been trying to figure out for about five years what to do with the 14,000-square-foot former S.C. National Guard building on North Hickory Street near the Faith Sellers Senior Center. At one point, officials considered renovating it into police headquarters.

Resident Robin Dudley said she would like to see it used as a shelter during bad weather.

“I want to encourage that if this is going to be a community center, that it take care of our entire community,” she said. “One of the things that this new community center can do is be not only a warming center but a place for those who need a place to go.”

The plans are to turn it into a multipurpose building that could be used for basketball, volleyball, large banquets or performances, said Parks and Recreation Director Doyle Best. It will also have smaller rooms for meetings or classes, he said.

“Our whole goal is not to paint ourselves into a corner,” he said.

The building will also be known as the Rollins Edwards Community Center at the Armory, named for the World War II veteran who endured secret mustard gas testing that left him living with pain.

Edwards, the first African-American to serve on Summerville town and Dorchester County councils, died in December at 95.

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Reach Brenda Rindge at 843-937-5713. Follow her on Twitter @brindge.

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