By Evan Belanger, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily
The Decatur City Council has voted unanimously to hire local architectural firm GBW Architects Inc. to design a 25,000-square-foot pavilion and associated improvements planned for Ingalls Harbor.
Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Dunlap said the vote marks the first step toward building the pavilion, which the council decided to help complete last month.
"The project is moving along," John Godwin, an architect with GBW, told the council during its Monday meeting.
"We're just real excited about getting this thing done."
The decision to hire GBW is no surprise to those who have followed the project.
The firm has completed conceptual drawings for the pavilion, which is intended to expand use of the city-owned harbor beyond its primary function as a site for fishing tournaments.
Additionally, the firm has worked on several other city recreation projects, including the initial design for Ingalls Harbor, the Jack Allen Soccer Complex and parts of Delano Park.
"Anytime you have a project of this scope, you have to pick out the best architect you can find," Dunlap said.
Godwin said Monday his firm would need three or four months to complete its design work, with an additional seven months to put out bids, get permits and construct the pavilion.
That tentatively sets an April or May 2011 completion date if all goes to plan.
The council voted unanimously last month to spend up to $2.8 million on the project, which the local Hospitality Association and the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau requested.
The Hospitality Association has agreed to reimburse the city over time with funds from its $2-per-night surcharge on local hotel stays.
Godwin said he is meeting with groups that could use the pavilion to solicit input as part of his design work. He said the preliminary plan calls for an open-air pavilion that can be closed during inclement weather.
He added that the design would allow the city to permanently close the structure, if desired in the future, creating a complete, indoor meeting facility.
City officials have said the pavilion will feature enough space to seat 750 at tables and 1,500 without them.