Blueprint for Archer center heads back to the drawing board


Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 23, 2006 at 10:54 p.m.
ARCHER - The plans show a peaked roof covering the entrance, an elegant brick addition on the building's side and a glass walkway connecting the two structures.
The main building would fit 300 people for a community play; the satellite building would have room for a concession stand and spacious restrooms.
There's only one problem with the plans to turn a historic gymnasium here into a city community center: They cost about $200,000 more than the City Commission expected to pay.
"I mean, it's a beautiful drawing," said Commissioner Samuel Clark, reacting to plans unveiled by William W. "Billy" Brame of Gainesville's Brame Architects on Monday night. "But as is so often the case, I can't afford it. We need to come within budget, or at least come a whole lot closer."
The old brick building was once a school gymnasium. Commissioners have spent nearly two years holding yard sales, soliciting cash and in-kind donations and petitioning state officials to get the funding to turn it into a community center.
City officials and volunteers have raised thousands of dollars in donations, and netted a $320,000 state grant for historic preservation.
Nationwide increases in construction costs and necessary changes to the plan increased the cost of the renovations from about $470,000 two years ago to more than $671,000 now, leaving commissioners struggling to find ways to slash the costs without ruining the building's design.
"It's a wonderful old space," Brame said. "The brick walls are in amazingly good shape. It's got beautiful bones, as we like to say."
Brame said commissioners could cut costs by reducing the size of the new satellite building, which would hold restrooms that are required by building codes.
Commissioners suggested several variations of that idea, and Brame agreed to examine those ideas.
But he warned commissioners that even the current estimate could change.
"I use strong words when I say 'estimated construction costs,' " Brame said. "You'll know the actual cost when we get bids."
Commissioner Roberta Lopez said she's held yard sales and sought donations before, and said she was ready to do it again.
"I'm well aware that we are way out of our range," Lopez said. "I would just like you to have a little bit of faith in me, and give me some time to raise some of the money we need. I will be hitting the pavement tomorrow."
Amy Reinink can be reached at 352-374-5088 or reinina@gvillesun.com

Increasing costs at a glance

  • Nationwide increases in construction costs and necessary changes to the plan increased the cost of the renovations from about $470,000 two years ago to more than $671,000 now.
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