Bids awarded for Terre Haute convention center

Submitted drawingSoon to be: This is an artist’s drawing of the new downtown Terre Haute convention center looking west down Wabash Ave.

The Capital Improvement Board on Wednesday approved a resolution that clears up downtown land issues involved with construction of the Terre Haute Convention Center and approved actions that will finalize a management agreement for the center’s operations.

Under a land agreement, the board held a public hearing on a proposal to lease land at 686 Wabash Avenue to Crossroads Parking Partners LLC, which has principal owners Tim Dora and Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson. Dora is president of Dora Hotel Company.

The CIB bought the Wabash Avenue site from Vigo County School Corp. for $3 million. The school corporation approved that sale in late April and will maintain its administrative offices on the property until September 2021.

After the hearing, the CIB unanimously approved the agreement for Terre Haute Hotel Partners, headed by Dora, to sell property on the north side of the Hilton Garden Inn to the CIB for $354,000, the same as under a previously expired agreement, while Fontanet Holdings, headed by Gibson, will donate property north of the Copper Bar to the CIB.

In return, the CIB will lease land at 686 Wabash Avenue to Crossroads Parking Partners. The lease is for 20 years at $1 a year, plus three 20-year automatic renewals at the developer’s option. Crossroads Parking Partners would be responsible for any future construction and development costs on that property. Costs could include removal of the current school corporation administrative building.

The land will be used for parking by the Hilton Garden Inn and will impact construction of a new downtown Marriott Courtyard, estimated at $29.5 million that will generate about 50 new jobs, with an estimated payroll of $1.225 million.

The CIB also authorized the CIB’s president and vice president to enter into a management agreement, once finalized, with Global Spectrum LP, doing business as Spectra Venue. The CIB in April selected Spectra to serve as the managing agency for the new convention center.

The agreement calls for the CIB to pay Spectra $110,000 a year, plus 3 percent of gross food and beverage sales at the convention center.

The county still collects a food and beverage tax. As an example, if a hamburger is sold for $1, Spectra would get 3 cents and the county would get 97 cents.

Additionally, Spectra as an incentive to bring in conventions, would keep 20 percent of annual gross revenues above a set benchmark. That benchmark for revenues has not yet been determined, said Brian Bosma, attorney for the CIB. Also, Spectra would receive up to $25,000 annually as a performance fee, based on the CIB’s evaluation of the company’s performance, Bosma said.

Spectra, in the five-year agreement, will pay a contribution of $900,000 to the CIB, Bosma said. That contribution is $275,000 in the first partial year of the convention center’s operation and $175,000 in the first full year of the center’s operation, then $150,000 in the sixth year and $300,000 bonus if the CIB renews a second five-year term.

“It is not unusual for a manager of a facility to make a capital contribution toward the facility,” Bosma said after the meeting. “Those contributions are generally to aid in the transition of management to the private manager.”

Additionally, Spectra is to maintain detailed accounting records and be in compliance with applicable law for its operating budget.

Commissioner Brad Anderson, a member of the CIB, after the meeting said that getting a new casino started in Vigo County will be important “as that will be one of our biggest draws for the convention center.” Groundbreaking on the casino is scheduled to be done before Nov. 1.

Update on construction

Brain Kooistra, chief operating officer for Garmong Construction, told the board the center is within budget and on schedule for substantial completion by March 10, 2022.

Substantial completion of the convention center’s parking garage is slated for Aug. 9, 2021.

Auger cast piling work, which is the foundation of the convention center and parking garage, is scheduled to begin Sept. 21.

“There are roughly 500 or so of these (pilings), which are 16 inches in diameter and are drilled down 40 feet into the ground, filled with rebar and concrete,” Kooistra said. “It is what will support both of the structures,” he said of the center and parking garage.

Recent activities include installing a new water vault, to store storm water, on the east side of the Hilton Garden Inn; electrical conduits and transformer pads are installed; and a storm trap installation is complete on the hotel’s northwest lot.

Upcoming activity includes restoring the hotel’s north lot by Sept. 11, which includes installing new sidewalks, curbs, gutter, asphalt/striping, landscaping and irrigation. Kooistra said he intends to push back the permanent closing of 8th Street between Wabash Avenue and Cherry Street to Sept. 14.

“We had planned on closing 8th Street on Aug. 31. We plan to move that to Sept. 14 which will coincide with when we receive the east side of the Hilton Garden Inn. We are ready to close the street, but it would really just be for closing it as not a lot of work would take place, so we would like to keep it open as long as we can,” Kooistra told the board.

Utility relocations for water, telephone, and some internet/data services are complete, with relocation of natural gas lines to be completed this week. Indiana Fiber Network has not yet completed its relocation of service at 9th and Cherry Streets, Kooistra told the board.

Duke Energy will begin work to on power relocation and set transformers at the site, starting next week, Kooistra said. Duke Energy is slated to switch over power service for the Hilton Garden Inn to Duke Energy’s new service line on Sept. 22, Kooistra said.

Lastly, the CIB must still approve a final contract for the Larry Bird Museum, to be housed in the convention center. The board last month approved a professional services agreement with Athens, Ohio.-based Hilferty & Associates Inc., a museum design firm. That agreement includes a design fee of $75,000.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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