Jacksonville is actively moving forward with its civic center project.
The next step, he said, will be to nail down a site for the civic center.
“We think we know where it’s going to be, but have to make that official,” he said.
One proposed area is near the entryway for Nichols Green Park, just north of Loop 456 by Trinity Mother Frances-Jacksonville.
As far as the look, the architectural contract calls for seating of up to 1,200 people, although the exact square footage of the venue has not been determined, Melvin said.
“We will have to have some kind of preliminary design to see how it will be divided up. We will have large meeting rooms and (smaller) meeting rooms,” he said.
Melvin said city officials want to ensure that everything is in order before architects begin work on a preliminary design.
In the meantime, though, architects will wait for direction from the city council and/or the city council and the civic center committee.
The council has not discussed any kind of time frame in regard to when a grand opening could take place. But once it’s complete, city officials hope the civic center is something residents can take pride in, Melvin said. Events are currently hosted at the Norman Activity Center on Commerce Street.
“Hopefully it’s going to be used quite often. We hope we can attract conventions of various sorts, (such as) trade shows and expos, weddings, receptions, that type of thing,” Melvin said. “We went to Center and visited their new civic center. The local people there support theirs, (and) I think that everyone in (Jacksonville) is looking forward to it.”
City Manager Mo Raissi said Fitzpatrick Architects will come up with renderings and look to see where the most feasible place is for the civic center. The project is estimated to cost up to $2 million and will be paid for through hotel/motel occupancy tax.
The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce previously received 75 percent of the hotel/motel occupancy tax, but that is now down to 50 percent, said Nathan Jones, 2012 chairman of the chamber board. The remaining 25 percent will be retained for the city to use on the convention center project.
“We think it’s a win-win for the chamber, for the city, (and) for the citizens of Jacksonville,” Jones has said. “There shouldn’t be any additional taxes.”