Amid such gala events as the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce banquet and efforts to bring in more such activities, plans to rejuvenate the Great Bend Events Center continue, Community Coordinator Christina Hayes said.
“Our official paint date is April 1,” she said. Weather permitting, this will take about a month.
It was last November that the City Council approved the roughly $70,000 bid from Brentwood Builders of Great Bend to repaint the venerable venue’s exterior. This includes the front and two sides, “everything a 10th Street viewer would see.”
The new color scheme will incorporate a new, darker gray to totally change the structure’s appearance. But, Hayes said there may be a change order prior to the start of the project to repaint some front door molding so it stands out more from the background.
“That was part of last year’s budget,” Hayes said of the painting. “So, that’s taken care of.”
Next, “I will be putting out some RFPs (requests for proposals) for the bathroom remodels,” she said. This will be included in this year’s budget.
Yet this year, Hayes would still like to see new air walls (easily portable partitions) installed to make dividing up the main room easier.
This is being done as Hayes, who is also director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau which is now housed in the center, and other city officials court organizations to use the facility. They have gone after trainings, conventions and other activities.
“We’re trying to put heads in beds,” Hayes said. “We are all working together to bring people here and that is really nice.”
“We have done an awful lot here,” Hayes said, noting city employees are proud of the renovations.
The re-carpeting and tiling of the facility wrapped up in September. The $99,000 project involved 12-foot tile perimeter around the main events room with the rest being carpet, a “walk-off” carpet in the back rooms, and mostly tile in the vestibule, foyer and Conference Room C.
The carpet is in squares that can be replaced. The color scheme is basically grays with some tan to match existing features.
With the new carpet, a new portable dance floor and the ability to roll portable bars on the tiled portion of the floor, officials said the changes will really bring the center up to date.
A lot has been done already. Changes have included:
• The new carpet and tile.
• The old canopy and supporting columns were removed.
It was replaced by a 34-by-60-foot canopy covering 2,000 square feet with a 14-foot clearance. Along with this, there will be an 18-by-80-foot plaza area in front of the center.
• About 8,500 square feet of the southeast quarter of the parking lot was removed and replaced. This is sloped, making the building more handicapped accessible and improving drainage.
• Additional repair of the external facade with the new gray colors.
• New sound system, and a projectors and screens were installed.
• Updating the kitchen.
• Some of the front doors were be replaced with wider doors. There is also be an automatic door opener installed.
In addition, there is a new handicapped ramp.
• Variable LED lighting under the canopy is in place.
• An ice and snow melting system under the canopy was also installed.
• To separate the city-owned Events Center and the neighboring and now closed Great Bend Hotel and Convention Center, a covered walkway connecting the two buildings was removed.
• The CVB was moved from its old location at the intersection of 10th and Monroe to a remodeled space in the center in early 2016.
Attached to back of the Events Center is a massive, two-floor office complex which has been vacant for many years. It will remain so for a while longer, officials said.
Severely outdated and in need of repair, this is a project for down the road. The air conditioning alone would cost $500,000, plus the bathrooms don’t work and the lighting is not up to code, she said.
The complex used to house several businesses, offices and agencies, and even the CVB. And, a few years back, local officials pushed for it to house the offices of the Kansas Department of Agriculture after that department’s lease expired on its Topeka facility.
However, the KDA eventually relocated to Manhattan.
The center and the office complex behind it were added to the hotel complex (which dates back to 1962) in the 1980s. The council approved utilizing $500,000 donated by an anonymous group of local residents to purchase the convention center in 2011 from the owners of the adjacent Highland Hotel (most recently the Great Bend Hotel and Convention Center which is now closed).