Stockbridge returns to the drawing board for new cultural arts center | News

STOCKBRIGE – Designs for Stockbridge’s new cultural arts center were rejected by city council on Tuesday largely due to the price tag.

The center’s budget was capped at $18 million. But the featured designs ranged in price with $32 million being the highest, followed by $25.3 million and $24 million. The lowest projected cost was $19.2 million.

Heather Hubble, principal architect at TSW design, said the company faced many challenges when developing the schematics. One reason, she said, is that city officials requested that more features be added to the building. For example, classrooms have been added as well as a covered side entrance, which she says was not originally envisioned. A planned park at the front of the building has been extended with additional design elements. Staff also requested a stage large enough to accommodate a 50-piece orchestra, which Hubble said added significant cost to the project.

“There are pressures on the project to add things that stress (the budget),” she said.

Hubble said another issue is inflation.

“Inflation is an issue we didn’t anticipate in 2018, which is contributing to the numbers we’re seeing,” she said.

Many times board members asked why they were being presented with options that were not in the budget.

“I would have liked to see what we could get for the $18 million instead of showing us this,” said board member John Blount.

Council member Alfonzo Thomas asked Hubble if they had reached out to the city to say “Houston, we have a problem” regarding the budget.

Council member Yolanda Barber said she had no intention of approving a design worth more than $18 million, suggesting that perhaps now was not the time to build the center.

“I understand that material costs are going up,” she said. “Trying to build a building is not the time right now.”

Council member Lakesha Gantt said she wanted to make sure the city got everything it wanted for the center, agreeing with council members that they needed to step back and hold additional meetings before moving forward. take a decision.

“Right now, we’re over budget no matter what we decide,” she said. “It’s our voters’ money.

Council member Elton Alexander compared the situation to an HGTV show.

“We’ve all seen it where there’s a wish list,” he said. “The consultant takes (buyers) to a property that has everything they want and then tells them the price. It’s way off the budget they wanted to be in.

Alexander said everyone asked TSW to include something in the design.

“Somebody should have said ‘listen, we can’t live out this fantasy with all the bells and whistles,'” he said. “All of us saw this episode on HGTV.”

Hubble suggested the board consider building the center in stages to ultimately get what they want from the new cultural arts center.

The council made no decision on the designs on Tuesday night. Their intention is to meet separately with city officials and TSW to create a facility within budget.

Thomas encouraged council members to keep moving forward despite the setback and to remember the city’s goal to revitalize its downtown core.

“We see the impact the amphitheater has had,” he said. “If we get it right, that’s going to be another trigger that will impact what we’re trying to do overall. We will see the effects and benefits that this will bring.

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