Robinson Center Upgrade Budgeted at $68.6 Million, On Track for 2016

by Luke Jones  on Tuesday, Sep. 24, 2013 2:14 pm  

Finally, public amenities will be augmented with more restrooms, concession stands and storage areas.

Hall said the project could potentially raise conference center revenue from $150,000 to $315,000 in four years and performance hall revenue from $170,000 to $300,000 in the same time frame.

She also said the project will overlap "as much as possible" with the renovation of the Broadway Bridge.

Hall said the project will be funded by a bond issue through the 2 percent advertising and promotions tax.

"They are getting ready to retire that bond," she said. "So we are going to the city board and making a presentation today. We will call for a special election to ask voters and citizens of Little Rock to dedicate that 2 percent to pay off a new bond addition. It's not a new tax, it's not an extension, it's simply a dedication of an existing tax."

The earliest the tax can go before voters is Dec. 10, she said.

Hall noted that outside sources of funding are being sought, but none are confirmed. The bond ordinance, she added, will order the project not to exceed $73.5 million, giving it some leeway over the original budget in case of market fluctuation and other unforeseen issues.

Mark Beach, vice president of CDI, said the price of the project is reasonable.

"New performance halls of this type around the country range in cost from the low $500 per SF to $700 per SF," he said. "It will be in the mid-$400 on this one."

If the bond is approved, the auditorium will be closed in July and will reopen in September 2016. Groups using the Robinson as a venue, such as the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, will perform elsewhere during those years.

"It combines something not only historical but a stunning new modern addition," Hall said. "It's something Little Rock is not only proud of but absolutely something it deserves."



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