Theater progress questionedPublished 8:08pm Wednesday, May 28, 2014
With no construction activity at Selma’s Riverfront Park, some are questioning whether the city’s proposed amphitheater will finish on time.
In March the city council voted to switch architects, moving from Birmingham-based Davis Architects to Atlanta-based firm Harris and Smith. The firm’s agreement listed two different completion dates — Jan 15, 2015 and December 15, 2014.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, Ward 4 councilwoman Angela Benjamin asked about the lack of activity. Planning and Development Director James Benderson responded the amphitheater is on schedule for completion in December. The December date means that multiple phases will run concurrently, according to Harris and Smith’s contract.
“Right now, they are doing some redesign to make sure it meets our budget,” Benderson said.
Harris and Smith plan to begin construction in early August, according to the contract.
Budgets were a concern with the previous architects, Mayor George Evans said Tuesday. Part of the problem with Davis Architects was estimates exceeded what the city had set aside — approximately $850,000 — he said.
“[Harris and Smith] gave us a guarantee that he could work within our budget,” he said. “If we had not done this, we would have lost $250,000.”
Part of the city’s funds for the amphitheater includes a $250,000 community block development grant awarded years ago by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Construction officially started in 2012.
Since phase one, which included replacing the roof, wrapped up, little progress has been made.
In October 2013, construction problems were further complicated when a bidding document for phase 2 incorrectly stated the amount of the necessary bid bond. The council subsequently rebid the contract for phase two, but construction never began.
The potential loss of the ADECA grant was due to the delay in construction, but because of the change in architects and revised completion date, the city will maintain the $250,000, ADECA spokesman Mike Presley said.
“We have met with the city about the grant and the project and remained in contact with them,” Presley said. “The grant is still active with no plans to change.”
As a part of the switch, Evans said modifications would be made to the amphitheater’s design, but it will largely remain the same as previously planned.