After a two-year delay due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic, work is to begin again on the renovation of Love Civic Center, although projected costs exceed funds available.
Paris City Council approved an amended contract with WRA Architects at a Monday night meeting with a contractor at risk to be named and contracts to be let by the end of the year. Construction is expected to begin in early 2022 with completion expected in 2023.
At a Feb. 8 meeting, the council employed WRA Architects to provide an assessment of needs at the 28-year-old civic center, which WRA architect Mary O’Brien presented at Monday’s meeting. The firm’s assessment includes an estimated $1.7 million in projects to include complete restroom renovation, roof repairs, exterior and interior painting, flooring and ceiling replacements along with upgrades to interior and exterior lighting, security and fire alarm systems, disability accessibility, and heating and ventilation systems.
“We have a finite amount of money here, and a lot of goals we want to pursue,” City Manager Grayson Path said in reference to about $1.2 million that remains of $1.5 million in bond funds secured in 2020 after voters in May 2019 approved a 2-cent increase to the city’s hotel and motel tax. “Lots will depend on how bids come in. We will work with WRA to see how to fit the pieces together and figure out what we actually can do with the money we’ve got.”
In late 2019 and early 2020, Brad Archer Construction and Design installed new audio/visual equipment, performed some exterior sidewalk repairs, landscaping and some ceiling repair, leaving a balance of roughly $1.28 million of the $1.5 million in bond funds. New architectural fees are projected at 5% of construction expenditures, according to WRA Architect contract terms.
During Monday night’s discussion, Councilor Clayton Pilgrim suggested additional funds might come from name designations for various parts of the building, such as the main exhibit hall and ballroom.
“We have some very generous people in Lamar County that want to see our county do well, and that’s something we might want to look at,” Pilgrim said. “I don’t know if somebody might be interested or not, but it might offset some of the costs.”
O’Brien responded by saying throughout the architecture and design process, her company can pinpoint locations that might be appropriate for advertising purposes or something similar.
“That is really all part of the schematic and design development process, and we can go through all those ideas,” O’Brien said.
Local hotelier and recently elected Councilor Mihir Pankaj expressed satisfaction about plans to move forward with Love Civic Center renovation.
“As a business owner that collects the hotel occupancy tax, I am glad that we’re finally starting to see this,” Panjak said. “It’s about time.”