Thursday, December 1 2022

Cumberland County commissioners hope to select a site for a new performing arts center by August, but that timeline may need to be delayed.

The commissioners adopted a tentative schedule for the facility, which is tentatively called the Crown Event Center, at their May 2 meeting. The schedule is based on the discussion of a committee working on the plans for the center.

The Crown Event Center committee voted last month to adopt a framework for the project, according to a statement released by the county. The framework was presented by MBP, a consulting firm hired by the county to help with site selection, design and construction of the center, he said.

Commissioner Jeannette Council is chair of the committee. Chair of Commissioners Glenn Adams and Commissioner Jimmy Keefe also sit there.

The framework was part of the commissioners’ consent agenda on May 2, meaning it was among the items that passed without discussion. The schedule calls for site selection to end in August, with design and construction to begin that month or the next.

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County officials hope to open the center by October 2025. The facility is expected to replace the Crown Theater and Arena, which is scheduled to close that month.

The council said on Friday that discussion on a site had not started, so the selection process may not be complete by August.

“I think it’s going to be a bit delayed,” she said.

Adams and Keefe agreed.

“I think it might be a bit ambitious, especially if we get more community feedback,” Adams said.

Keefe said he thought plans to finalize a site by August were “very aggressive”.

“If there’s anything that’s going to hold up the process, it’s going to be site selection,” he said.

Some county and city officials have talked about placing the center in downtown Fayetteville, but the existing Crown complex off US 301 and a site near what will become Interstate 295 have also been mentioned as potential locations.

Keefe said he was a “100% advocate” for a downtown site. He said he believes the facility should be on existing county or city property, use existing parking, be close enough to existing downtown businesses to help them economically, and be in a location that allows additional economic growth nearby.

Previous cover:Performing arts study results show need for new center in Cumberland County

The council said it thinks there are varying opinions on where the center should be located. These discussions are just beginning, she said.

“It’s in the preliminary stages,” she said. “I don’t know who has what ideas.”

The committee working on the center has only met once, the council said.

“There’s nothing set in stone,” she said.

Adams said he thinks it will be easier to make a decision about the site once some potential locations have been identified. He said he would like the site to have enough room for something like a children’s museum nearby.

“It’s just me, though,” he said.

The council said the committee was concerned about possible supply chain issues once construction begins.

The commissioners must also work on the financing of the project.

The estimated cost of $75 million to $80 million was calculated last year and does not include the purchase of a site, according to the county statement.

Adams said other construction projects at Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville Technical Community College and around the city could impact construction.

“Even when you want to start, you may not be able to start,” he said.

A feasibility study conducted in January 2020 recommended that the county build an 89,000 square foot multi-purpose hall with a maximum capacity of 2,500 people, according to the release.

“Hopefully we can move this project forward,” Adams said.

Local News Editor Steve DeVane can be reached at [email protected]

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