City close to community center contract

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 4, 2000

City officials hope to have a construction deal wrapped up by the end of the week for the new downtown community center.

The old Service Motor Co. building on Franklin Street is being renovated for the center, with designs by architect Johnny Waycaster.

Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown said the city has been negotiating with low bidder Scarborough Construction Co. of Jackson to trim the budget for the center. The original bid was $561,232.

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&uot;We’ve gotten it down to a manageable number,&uot; Brown said.

Last week, the board of aldermen authorized Brown and Waycaster to finalize a contract between the city and the construction company.

Brown said Scarborough officials have not yet signed off on the contract, but he expects an agreement in the next two or three days. The board of aldermen could then ratify the contract at next Tuesday’s meeting.

The community center is one of three projects that are part of the downtown convention center complex. As part of the $12 million project, the city auditorium will also be renovated and a new convention center will be built.

&uot;Because it’s all in the same budget with the rest of the project, if we overspend in one area we won’t have enough for the other areas,&uot; Brown said. &uot;We want to pinch those pennies so there’s enough to go around.&uot;

He called the project one of the city’s LUMPs – large, unused municipal properties – which are being renovated for a new purpose.

&uot;It’s going to be a dynamite facility,&uot; Brown said. &uot;It’ll have a lot of use. It will be what we call it – a community center. It will serve our community.&uot;

The post-World War II Service Motor Co. building is an example of art deco architecture. The Lambdin family originally built it as a Buick dealership.

&uot;The family that built that building never dreamed it would be a community center,&uot; Brown said.