The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau today began in earnest its push for a bond issue to expand the WPA-era Robinson Center. We’ve written about the topic several times previously, but the plans are now drawn up. The Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission signed off yesterday and now all that stands between a vote on the necessary bond issue is a vote from the Little Rock Board of Directors. It’s to discuss the issue tonight, but not vote until Oct. 1 on setting a Dec. 10 election.
The bond vote won’t bring a tax increase. It will use the existing restaurant-and-hotel tax. Expiration of a previous bond issue frees up the money. The project will cost an estimated $68.6 million, counting fees and relocation costs during the closure. The bond issue would allow for a bit more for potential overruns, up to $73 million. If approved, the center would be closed in July next year and the work would take a bit more than two years to finish. The auditorium would have fewer, better seats and a lowered stage more readily served by equipment from traveling shows.A glass walled area would be added on the river side of the structure, to present a more appealing facade to the north. You can see it in the video prepared above. Lots more details here.
Pollsters were in the field last night testing talking points for the bond campaign: Much of the tax is paid by visitors to the city; tourist economy is good for the city; more church and school groups will be able to use the revamped auditorium; no tax will be raised; etc.
Leslie Peacock, who attended the news conference, reports that some were surprised by a radio reporter’s question about what precaution had been taken in regards possibility people armed with semi-automatic rifles would come busting in the new entrance of the remodeled assembly hall. Deploy the drone toy helicopters equipped with tiny missiles, I guess.