Chesterton Tribune



$3.2 million Expo Center projects begins

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On Tuesday, August 7, members of the Porter County Board of Commissioners and Porter County Council hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to signal the start of a $3.2 million renovation project to restore the Expo Center to its former status as the pre-eminent event venue in Porter County.

The Expo project will include:

*  Total interior and exterior renovation of the main Expo building

*  Replacement of failing HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems in the main Expo Building

*  Installation of new sound system in main Expo building

*  Addition of an outdoor patio to main Expo Building

*  Cosmetic and restroom upgrades in Expo East building

*  Bringing both buildings and restrooms into full ADA compliance.

Opened in 1984, the Porter County Expo Center has hosted thousands of events and millions of visitors over the past 34 years with only routine maintenance. The current condition of the facilities has relegated the Expo to a second-tier event venue with a primary focus on trade shows, craft fairs, auctions, and car shows with occasional non-profit fundraising events.

While successful, those types of events are not large revenue producers. With the renovation, the Expo Center can return to top-tier status and attract higher revenue events, as well as reclaim corporate and non-profit events that were once theirs. It could even become competitive in the lucrative wedding reception market.

“We are so excited because this project is going to open many doors that were previously closed to us,” said Expo Director Lori Daly. “During construction, we are going to be out aggressively marketing our new and improved venue. Plus, we are already getting calls from past vendors who want to come back to the Expo.”

The Expo Main and Expo East buildings will be closed during construction, but they will continue to host some events in outdoor spaces and other smaller buildings. It is anticipated that the project will be completed by the end of April 2019. The renovations were designed by Valparaiso-based Shive-Hattery, with construction project management by Skillman Corp.

The Expo Center project is part of a $30 million Capital Upgrade Plan introduced in 2017 to address deferred maintenance on County-owned buildings. Based on needs, not wants, the plan also includes work at the Administration Center plaza, Valparaiso courthouse, the North County Government Complex, the old jail building at 157 Franklin in Valparaiso, and some bridges.

“We are using an open, transparent, competitive bidding process on all of these projects, and so far, all successful bids have come in under budget,” said Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center. “We are controlling costs, and even more important to our taxpayers, this $30 million Capital Upgrade Plan is being completed without any tax increases.”



Posted 8/10/2018




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