Steering committee gives go-ahead on civic center

By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer

While the proposed Clovis Civic Center continues to shrink in size and rise in price, supporters are applauding its refinement and functionality.

A Civic Center steering committee voted Wednesday to advise the city commission to go ahead with plans for a 28,000-square-foot building with two access roads for approximately $5.8 million.

The city originally budgeted $5.1 million for about 30,000 square feet for the building at Schepps Boulevard and Seventh Street.

Steven J. Perich, from the Albuquerque-based Dekker/Perich/Sabatini architecture firm, told the committee that escalating steel, wood, concrete and construction costs sent the building beyond original estimates. In order to go forth with the $5.8 million design, he needs approval from the city commission at the Aug. 19 meeting.

At a July 19 meeting, a 6-2 vote approved the 30,000-square-foot design, with commissioners Fred Van Soelen and Isidro Garcia saying the building was too small.

On Wednesday, Perich announced modifications to the building he said would save money but not impair functionality.

The ceiling, originally set for 24 feet, was dropped to 20 feet. The main concourse was reduced from 20 feet wide to 16 feet wide. Two hallways were reduced by 2 feet and about 30 percent of the parking area will be gravel.

“We’ve taken a much harder look at what we’re getting for our cost,” Perich said.

The proposed civic center’s ballroom area would seat between 700 and 800 guests. While handling high school graduations in the ballroom would be unlikely, Perich said the building could attract state conferences and conventions.

Clovis Mayor David Lansford said estimates show there is enough money in hand — combined with a 15 or 20-year bond — to finance the building with no additional taxes.
“I think we took out some things that really weren’t attractive and at the same time we made the building more functional, so I think we are refining this into an extremely quality product,” Lansford said.

The committee is also recommending two access ways into the facility: A 100-foot extension from Schepps Boulevard will be lined with trees and a second access, either gravel or paved, will connect to Seventh Street.

“I think we would get lousy publicity if the first time we have an event people are trapped in the parking lot,” said committee member Lonnie Leslie about approving both access ways.

A full-service kitchen area is being considered for an additional $250,000.

Perich said he will present the plans to the city commission at next week’s meeting.

Commissioner Bobby Sandoval said he would have preferred the larger facility, but understood the budgetary reasons for downsizing.

“My main concern is keeping within the reach of the people of Clovis without raising taxes and still have a quality civic center,” he said. “I think we can achieve that.”