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City to explore designs for performing arts center

Posted on Sunday, June 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Rachel Christian
Staff Writer
Local officials will host a workshop June 26 to review conceptual design plans aimed at converting the Kissimmee Civic Center into a high-end performing arts venue.
Architects from Baker Barrios will conduct the public presentation, which follows a separate feasibility study paid for by the city in December.
Discussions about re-purposing the Civic Center began nearly two years ago, and

Local officials will host a workshop June 26 to review conceptual design plans aimed at converting the Kissimmee Civic Center into a high-end performing arts venue.

county commissioners tentatively earmarked $10 million last year to help finance the building’s renovation.
Osceola Arts, a nonprofit organization led by County Commissioner Brandon Arrington, offered to manage the facility once renovations were complete. The group projected it could raise another $5 to $7 million if it takes over management.
In May 2017, the city hired Convention, Sports & Leisure International to evaluate the feasibility of turning the facility into a 1,000-seat arts venue.
The news that Consultant John Kaatz shared with city officials Dec. 15 was mixed. The center in Kissimmee would be in direct competition with other performing arts venues in the Orlando metro area, he said. Kaatz also described a lackluster response from local organizers when he pitched the concept to them last year.
But city officials chose to continue exploring options for the 25-year-old Civic Center, which has served many purposes over the years, including as a social venue for receptions and a business facility for conferences.
Initial designs by Baker Barrios purpose a newly constructed performance hall located on a surface lot between the library and the Civic Center.
The venue would be served by two nearby parking garages – one at the downtown SunRail station and another at Toho Square, a block down the road.
But Baker Barrios’ designs – which will be discussed in detail at the workshop – are purely conceptual at this point. The city will need to decide how much it’s willing to invest in the project.
Total renovation costs were estimated between $20 and $50 million, according to the December feasibility study.
City officials were unable to confirm the cost of the feasibility study and architectural designs at press time Friday.
Austin Blake, public information officer for the city of Kissimmee, said the upcoming workshop will give commissioners a chance to decide if
they want to move forward or not.
“This is a chance for commissioners to take in the information, get some firmer cost estimates and decide what direction they want to head in,” he said. “It’s ultimately up to them if they want to pursue it.”
The workshop will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 26 at City Hall.