Chicago Real Estate

Dr. Phillips Center has begun bid conversations for second phase

If you haven’t yet heard word about how to get involved in the Dr. Phillips Center for the $203.5 million second phase, those talks are starting now.

The second phase of the arts center’s construction, which includes the 1,700-seat Steinmetz Hall acoustical theater and multiple back facility space, is beginning to consult with businesses interested in getting a piece of the project, Kathy Ramsberger, president and CEO of the Dr. Phillips Center, told Orlando Business Journal. The Orange County Tourist Development Council on Sept. 30 approved giving $45 million in tourist development taxes to the center to help bridge a $55 million funding gap — the final $10 million is expected to come from fundraising and donations.

The next big county hurdle is to get approval from the Orange County board of county commissioners on Nov. 1. That approval would green-light subcontractor bidding within the next two months with a ground breaking in January 2017 and completion by late 2019 or early 2020.

“We are going to begin our communication to the minority- and woman-owned businesses and the Blueprint community based on the [Sept. 30] vote,” she said. “The minute we have [county] approval, the bid packages are ready to go. We already are investing into phase two, we have been funding all the pre-construction. So our construction team is mobilized and ready to move. We are already through much of the permitting/construction review process.”

The construction talks kicked off last week and have the potential to create hundreds of temporary construction jobs and more permanent arts jobs. Once the second phase is complete, the Dr. Phillips Center construction cost will total more than $570.3 million. The first phase opened in late 2014.

The arts center has become a must-finish project for many local leaders. It has added more to the region’s culture, generates $68 million in annual economic impact and was the focal remembrance and gathering point for locals after the deadly Pulse shooting.