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Event Center construction on schedule, under budget

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Work continues Tuesday on the Rocky Mount Event Center as seen from the intersection of East Goldleaf Street and Albemarle Avenue.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Rocky Mount Event Center is under budget with construction moving along smoothly, city officials said Tuesday.

The Event Center is on track to be complete by October with event contracts already being drawn up, said Charles Penny, a retired city manager retained by the City Council as a consultant on the project.

“In the life of a building, there are three significant events,” Penny said. The groundbreaking happened in March. The topping off, which celebrates completion of the highest point of steel set in place, is set for March. A grand opening is scheduled for October.

One of the biggest challenges so far has been the removal of 9,000 cubic yards of sub-par dirt, which isn't contaminated, but doesn't settle as desired. The city demolished old houses and buildings to make room for the Event Center. The dirt beneath some of those old structures wasn't stable enough for the massive new structure. A huge underground storage tank had to be removed as well, Penny said.

All the required earthwork is complete, and workers are finishing up concrete pouring. The entire floor of the Event Center will sit on a concrete slab, which will make the Center more flexible in the types of shows it can accommodate. The concrete floor will be strong enough for inside car and boat shows.

“All the steel is on site,” Penny said. “It's either standing up or laying down somewhere, but it's all been delivered.”

The basketball goals will be installed in January. The Event Center will have eight basketball courts that can convert into 16 volleyball courts.

To pay for the extra work needed to remove the dirt and the underground tank, the city is tapping into contingencies funds with the city paying half and the contractors paying half.

Designers are beefing up security points including video surveillance inside and in the parking lots.

“Some bids came in under budget,” Penny said. “We're doing everything we can to keep this thing within budget. The goal is not to come back and ask for additional money.”

Initial plans called for 18 events the first year, and Penny said that shouldn't be a problem.

Penny said he's negotiating contracts for 2019. As the building continues to be built, more and more people are beginning to see it as a reality, Penny said, adding he's received interest from locals who want to hold class reunions as well as interest on the state and national levels.

“I'm hoping real soon to let you know,” Penny told the council.

The Event Center will employ eight full time and several part time positions. The full time positions include a marketing director. Councilwoman Lois Watkins said minority hiring should be a priority. A job fair is planned for March.

More information can be found on the Event Center's new website — www.rockymountec.com — which went live last week.

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