The 26-month construction plan set in place for the Robinson Center Music Hall will overlap with construction on the neighboring Broadway Bridge, city officials said in a news conference.
The city of Little Rock, in conjunction with the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, officially announced the plans for major renovations to the Robinson Center on Tuesday, a $68.6 million project to improve the 74-year-old building.
During a 45-minute presentation, officials emphasized that the Robinson Center construction would coincide with plans to replace the Broadway Bridge over the next three years.
Gretchen Hall, president and chief executive officer of the visitors bureau, said crews will set up their main construction hub and gain access to the Robinson Center by using the area below and around the bridge when the bridge isn't accessible during its construction. Hall said the bridge's 18-month construction timeline means it'll be finished before the Robinson Center renovation is complete.
The project will be completely funded by the existing restaurant and prepared foods tax, Hall said.
An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story reported that the Little Rock Board of Directors on Tuesday night will hear a presentation that will seek a special bond election to fund the renovations. The project, which is set to expand the building from 133,500 square feet to 138,000 square feet, is being headed by Little Rock-based Polk, Stanley and Wilcox Architects and New York-based Ennead Architects.
Hall added that for all parties involved, there will be penalties for late completion and bonuses for early completion, though those figures were not readily available.
Also in the plans is a new conference center to hold 450 to 500 people that will also include access to the Doubletree Hotel next door, Francelle Lim of Ennead Architects said. Lim added that designers are aiming to move mechanical utilities as far away from the concert hall as possible to enable easier listening for patrons in the main concert hall.
Hall said the project's completion will allow longer stays of bigger Broadway shows, such as The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera. The Robinson Center currently hosts about 28 concerts and 50,000 patrons each year. Hall added that events such as the Little Rock Symphony Orchestra and Celebrity Attractions will move to different, undecided venues until construction is finished.
Read more about this story in tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.