Substantial changes are afoot at the Wenatchee Convention Center, which will soon undergo a year-long process of expansion. But first comes the ceremonial groundbreaking.

The half-hour ceremony is slated for the afternoon of Monday, May 6. Spectators are welcome; they should arrive at Wenatchee Convention Center Outdoor Plaza shortly before 2 p.m.

Located on the corner of First Street and Wenatchee Avenue, the Convention Center is functional but imperfect. Elisa Schafer, facilities manager for the City of Wenatchee Public Works Department, gave a presentation last month identifying several foundational issues. These shortcomings, Schafer argued, are a hindrance to patron access. For one thing, there is not enough synchrony between indoor and outdoor space.

As it stands the Convention Center is not sufficiently "optimized," nor sufficiently coordinated with the Numerica Performing Arts Center.

Following Schafer's presentation, the Wenatchee City Council approved an ambitious plan totaling $16.4 million. The plan will be funded chiefly by capital bonds issued in January.

The Convention Center is to be enlarged by 24,000 feet (including 4,000 extra feet for breakout rooms). Moreover, the expansion plan calls for additional pre-function space, new washing facilities, an enlarged kitchen, disabled-accessible fountain spaces, and a new elevator.

Construction itself will be handled by Absher Construction Co, a general contractor out of Puyallup. There were six bidders to start with; Absher ultimately won out. Their bid - about $13.9 million - was roughly in line with the $14 million estimated by ALSC Architects, a Spokane-based design consultant.

The tentative completion date for this project is August 2025. Given the scale and scope of these renovations, the timeline here - 15 months - seems reasonable.

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