Memorial Auditorium renovations postponedWORTHINGTON — It looks like show goers will squeeze one more season out of the current Memorial Auditorium before renovations begin on the building.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — It looks like show goers will squeeze one more season out of the current Memorial Auditorium before renovations begin on the building.
Construction on the $1.5 million-plus renovation and addition project has been postponed until the spring of 2010 to allow for re-evaluation of the project’s costs.
In the meantime, auditorium employees are cobbling together a season of shows they didn’t expect to have.
There will be performances of traditional favorites like the Hometown Showcases, said Memorial Auditorium manager Margaret Hurlbut Vosburgh. “Corn Off the Cob” is slated for Sept. 25 and 26; “Snow on the Porch” will be Dec. 31; and “Gone Country” will be on a yet-to-be-determined date next spring.
Unofficially, a Great Entertainers Series, themed “A Season of Legends,” is also planned. “Hank and My Honky Tonk Heroes” with Jason Petty as Hank Williams and “Travis LeDoyt, The World’s Best Young Elvis,” both exclusively represented by Music City Artists, are tentatively scheduled for Oct. 24 and Feb. 12, 2010, respectively.
“I’ve seen this guy, and he is phenomenal, amazing. He looks like, sounds like, has all of the mannerisms of Elvis,” Vosburgh said.
Both artists will perform with a four-piece band.
“Revolution: The Beatles Tribute,” from Producers Inc., is also tentatively set for Nov. 21.
The Missoula Children’s Theater will make its annual visit, hosting auditions for “King Arthur’s Quest” in January. Vosburgh said she is also working on an educational student matinee series for grades K-12.
The auditorium’s change of plans came after the Worthington City Council rejected the low bid of Wilcon Construction for the project at its April 27 meeting.
“We were expecting the bids to come in under budget, and instead they came in over budget,” explained Mike Woll, the council’s representative on the Memorial Auditorium Renovation Committee (MARC).
After noting the total project cost was $2.1 million —about $600,000 over budget — the council voted to reject all bids for construction and solicit new bids early next year, after the scope of the project has been re-evaluated.
Construction had been slated to begin in mid-May, less than seven months after voters approved the funding of the project via a half-percent local sales tax. The project’s aggressive timeline was a concern for some from the beginning.
“It seemed wisest to rethink some of the decisions that never came before a committee because of the tight timeline,” Woll said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on this building; we want to make sure we do it right.”
Now it’s up to project architects Short, Elliott, Hendrickson Inc. (SEH), city staff and other MARC members to trim project costs, though Woll said they might also make a case for increasing the original $1.5 million budget.
Costs that could be on the chopping block include those for lighting, the building’s rear exterior surface, the shielding for mechanical equipment on the roof, architectural features and the number of bathrooms (which was above the amount required by law, but could be cut back).
“There are simple things that the … architects selected that are extremely expensive that can be altered,” Woll said. “SEH came up with a list of all sorts of places we can (reduce costs).”
Other organizations, such as Friends of the Auditorium, may also have more input this time around, and Woll is confident the groups will reach a solution.
“This one-year transition is a means to an end of a terrific new facility,” he said.