City Center officials have unveiled a revised design to their $16 million expansion project that they hope everyone will like.
The original design was panned by crtics as garish. The new design — which has been approved by the city Design Review Commission — does fit in better with downtown, said Patrick Kane, chairman of the commission.
“I thought they did a good job meeting people’s objections and still maintaining their own objectives,” he said.
The City Council is expected to vote on it May 19.
“The indication that I’m getting from everyone privately is that everybody is pleased with the process,” said City Center President Mark Baker.
The new design features a more inviting entryway on Ellsworth Jones Place, glass walls visually broken up with brick columns on Broadway and no V-shaped cutout in the corner that the original design had.
Officials think their revised design will be more palatable to city residents who were opposed to the glass structure officials pitched a month ago.
If the City Council approves the plans, the City Center Authority can bid out the project immediately.
Baker said that in normal economic conditions, the new design would exceed the City Center’s budget.
“Right now, the bidding atmosphere is so opportune that we don’t want to miss the opportunity to get some very sharp pencil bids,” he said.
The drawing unveiled a month ago to renovate and expand the 1983 building was criticized by some residents as a 1960s throwback and an imposing building that didn’t match the brick structures on Broadway.
But not everyone disliked it, Baker said.
“There are a great number of people who liked the initial design,” he said.
That plan was developed after years of work by architect HNTB Architecture of Kansas City, Mo.
Just three weeks later, the authority unveiled revised designs also completed by HNTB.
“We are trying to be responsive to the community so we can be a part of establishing that civic pride,” Baker said.
The City Center’s expanded interior space won’t be reduced with the new design, Baker said. That was one of the concerns City Center officials had initially.
The expansion is expected to increase the City Center’s indoor space to 74,000 square feet, allowing larger conventions to book the site or letting two conventions take place at one time.
Fourteen months of construction will be planned to not disrupt the summer season, and the convention center will remain open.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: