Walton Arts Center board approves construction bid for Fayetteville expansion

Design renderings depict an expanded Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street.

WAC/Boora Architects

The Walton Arts Center last week approved a contract with CDI Contractors to move forward with the planned renovation of their Fayetteville facility.

In a special meeting held Tuesday, the arts center’s board unanimously approved a $15.9 million contract with the company as part of an overall $23 million project set to break ground this summer.

Mike Johnson, who heads the arts center’s facilities committee, said his team has spent about 90 days bidding out the project and working through the construction budget, and that the final proposal was finished on Jan. 28.

“This proposal…is intended to deliver the entire intended scope of the Walton Arts Center expansion over the next two years,” Johnson said.

Artist rendering of the Walton Arts Center’s planned expansion depict an expanded and reconfigured lobby with a built-in concession and ticketing center, expanded restrooms, and a reoriented staircase plan that would help unify the main and upstairs lobby areas.

WAC/Boora Architects

The construction will be concentrated in the summer months, typically the off season for the arts center, with a beginning date set for July 1, and a guaranteed completion date of no later than Nov. 1, 2016.

The renovation will include an expanded lobby, a redesigned entry from Dickson Street, and an expanded Starr Theatre to include a separate entrance, expanded seating, and large windows, as well as some backstage renovations to expand storage capacity and crew facilities.

The project is being paid for using a combination of approximately $7 million of an $11.9 million bond package Fayetteville voters approved in 2013, as well as through corporate, foundation, and private donations. The board also approved a financing package with Arvest Bank to help finance the project as donations come in.

Peter Lane, Walton Arts Center president, declined to discuss publicly the details of the arts center’s fundraising efforts, but board president Greg Lee said things were going well.

Lee and the board last summer pledged not to raise funds toward any other facility “without first having funded and completed the construction of the Fayetteville expansion.”

“We feel good about fundraising, where we are, and where we’re going,” Lee said. “We are in a position to go forward and deliver what we have pledged to the city of Fayetteville, Northwest Arkansas, and our stakeholders, so we feel good about that.”

An announcement and kickoff for the public portion of the arts center’s fundraising efforts is planned for Tuesday, March 3.