VOL. 132 | NO. 258 | Friday, December 29, 2017
City Puts Price of Convention Center Renovation at $175M
By Bill Dries
The renovated Memphis Cook Convention Center will cost $175 million including a new western concourse with a view of the Mississippi River and the riverfront, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced Friday. (source: City of Memphis)
The renovation of the Memphis Cook Convention Center will cost $175 million and should be completed by the end of 2019, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced Friday, Dec. 29.
The cost of the undertaking, which has been in the planning stages for more than a year, began at approximately $60 million when the renovation was envisioned as putting a new exterior on the structure to match the exterior of the attached Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.
But the scale and cost of the project grew as city leaders raised the hotel-motel tax by 1.8 percent and found that the Tourism Development Zone sales tax revenue generated in the Downtown area could also cover the increased cost of a bigger expansion.
“I want you to know this from the top: We’ll do this at no cost to the local taxpayer,” Strickland said Friday in his weekly update email to the public. “This will not take away any money we use for core services like police and fire.”
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane pointed to the increased revenue estimates in October from both sources.
“What happened, fortunately, is the city administration took a deep dive in the long-term projections for the Tourism Development Zone along with the hotel-motel lodging tax,” he said on the WKNO/Channel program “Behind The Headlines.”
“They realized there was more capacity than they had ever anticipated to begin with,” Kane said.
Bidding for the construction team is to begin in February, with the construction team contract awarded in March.
The convention center will continue to hold events during the construction period.
Previous drafts of the renovation plans have included large windows on the west side of the convention center with views of the Mississippi River.
The detailed plans released Friday also include a concourse on the western side of the building overlooking the river and riverfront.
“It’s an expansion and transformation of the interior and exterior in exciting new ways that take advantage of its location overlooking the Mississippi River,” Strickland said. “For instance, a new glass concourse will take over the west side of the building, allowing for striking views of the river, the Bass Pro Pyramid and skyline. It’s also a modernization of the facility, parts of which date to 1974.”
The existing 120,000-square-foot main exhibit hall will be renovated in a way to make 40,000 square feet of it a secondary ballroom when needed with retractable ceiling lights, new wall finishes, permanent carpeting and the concourse that overlooks the Mississippi River.
Five permanent loading docks on the second level for the exhibit hall will accommodate five 18-wheelers for load in and load out. Currently there is only one loading dock.
A total of 20 new meeting rooms would be created to bring the total of breakout meeting rooms to 52.