Convention center plans on right track

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 10, 2000

So now we know what it should look like … The Natchez Preservation Commission gave its OK Wednesday to the conceptual drawings for a new downtown convention center.

A long time in the making, the downtown convention center has the potential to become a key boost for both tourism and economic development in Natchez.

Moreover, the process of designing and building the center – which has been ongoing for more than two years now – has the potential to become a unifying force in Natchez.

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At $6.5 million (without furnishings), the center is a substantial investment for the community … and one that must be made wisely.

With arguments about location long behind us, residents, retailers and merchants can be pleased with the concept of the new center. With its thoughtfully designed facade (which will look like a row of similar but separate buildings) and the addition of both second-story balcony space and shallow retail space on the first floor, architects seem to have heeded the suggestions of historic preservation experts. And, that attention to detail should yield a finished center that will be a boost – rather than a detraction – to our downtown.

Moreover, the details released so far about the center’s functional spaces – from breakout rooms on the second floor to a spacious and efficient kitchen – seem to be smart.

We’re still a long ways away from having that finished center – April 2001 is a goal – and the realities of unanticipated construction costs still lie ahead.

But, from what we’ve seen, it appears we’re on the right track with our new downtown convention center.