The Wenatchee City Council has approved a roughly $16.4 million plan for upgrades to the city Convention Center.

The council Thursday authorized a contract with Absher Construction to complete the undertaking, known as the Wenatchee Convention Center Expansion Project.

It'll add 4,000 feet of meeting room space and other upgrades.

The project will start in May and be completed by August of 2025.

Council member Linda Herald is the General Manager of Convention Center. She recused herself from the council vote, which was otherwise unanimous.

Public Work Department facilities manager Elisa Schafer gave a presentation to city councilors before the vote.

A2019 Market Analysis showed the need for better patron access, additional meeting room space, enhanced coordination with the Numerica Performing Arts Center, and optimization of Indoor and Outdoor space.

City staff worked with ALSC Architects to plan and design an expansion project that would "right size" the convention center.

It includes enlarging the convention center by 24,000 feet with 4,000 extra feet for breakout rooms (flexible meeting rooms), additional pre-function space (space for convention goers to mingle outside meeting rooms), new restrooms and an elevator (accessible from both the convention center and the adjacent performing arts center), a kitchen expansion with more backup house space and ADA accessibility to fountain space.

The budget for the project started off at under $12 million, but a decision was made to add another component, the development of the unfinished basement. The basement would otherwise be closed off from future use.

The initial cost estimate was $12 million, but staff member asked that the project include upgrades to the aging Fuji and Gala breakout rooms. As a result, $500,000 in design optimization and $1.5 million in renovations the Fuji/Gala rooms was added to the project construction estimate, bringing the total to $14 million. The soft costs, including sales tax and special inspections, added $2.435 million, bringing the overall cost estimate to $16,435,000.

The project went out to bid in mid-March with six bids submitted. Absher Construction Company from Seattle, with an office in Wenatchee, brought the lowest total bid of $13,978,372. The bid was closely aligned with $14 million estimates provided by ALSC. Adding the soft costs of $2.435 million brought the project to about $16,435,000, equal to the previously mention estimate.

A design component of $1.1 million, that was already paid was for by lodging tax money from the city, was added to the final cost, bringing the total to $17,535,000.

The project is being funded chiefly by $16.2 million in capital bonds issued in January. Interest from the bonds is projected to be $500,000. The total of $16,700,000 million will cover the Absher Construction bid and soft cost total of $16,435,000.

A notice of contract award to Absher will be issued on April 19th with a notice to proceed issued on April 29th.

The project will begin by the beginning of May and be completed by August of 2025, about 15-16 months.

The city council also extended the city's contract with ALSC Architects to oversee the construction phase of the project during Thursday’s council meeting.


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Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals