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Posted on Aug 17, 2015

Port making headway on business center

The Port of Quincy now has a draft design of what the former community center will look like when it’s transformed into a state-of-the-art business and conference center.
The port last week released conceptual drawings of the project, which will combine the former community center with the former Heartland Pharmacy building. The new building, called the Quincy Valley Business & Conference Center, includes the construction of a main entrance between the two buildings, creating nearly 15,500 square feet of space for the new facility.
“We want (the conference center) to service whatever makes sense for the community,” said Brian Kuest, port commissioner.

This is a draft design of the inside of the Quincy Valley Business & Conference Center. Design by Terence Thornhill.

This is a draft design of the inside of the Quincy Valley Business & Conference Center. Design by Terence Thornhill.

The construction of the Quincy Valley Business & Conference Center is not expected to begin until 2017, Kuest said. The first phase of the building process is developing a design, he said.
The design, created by architect Terence Thornhill of Pasco, proposes removing all the glass on the west side of the old community center and instead creating a solid wall. All entrances also will go away to direct visitors to one new covered entrance.
The design also shows the former community center, which covers 8,400 square feet, divided into two large conference areas. One of those areas can be divided into two spaces using a large partition, creating three spaces. Each conference or business room also will be equipped with technical equipment to support workshops, classes or meetings, Kuest said.
The former community center’s kitchen also will be expanded and updated. The port would like to see it transformed and expanded into a state-of-the-art kitchen, Kuest said.
Connecting the old Heartland building and creating the new entry will add 7,036 square feet to the former community center, according to numbers from Thornhill. In June, the port purchased the former pharmacy for $625,000.
That building will be sectioned off into four potential classrooms as well as a “flex space” at its center. That area also will have three office spaces.
The port already has been having discussions with Big Bend Community College officials about using the Quincy Valley Business & Conference Center as an off-campus training facility in the future, Kuest said.
“It would be a convenience factor for the community,” he said.
With the proposed design, McKinstry Co. is currently developing a budget with cost estimates for the project.
“I’m hoping by the end of August we can have the budget projections done,” Kuest said.
The port is hoping the construction project stays within a $1.5 million budget. To pay for the project, the port will seek a federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which has already sent a representative to look at the project, Kuest said. Kuest hopes to have a grant application submitted to the EDA in November, with a determination expected late next year. The port also will make a stronger push next year for additional state funding for the project, he added.
Even though construction won’t begin until 2017, the port is doing some minor renovation work now, including upgrades to the electrical and bathroom facilities, he said.
“(We’re) going to put some spit and polish to it in the interim as best we can,” he said.
The commissioner thanked the community center board and the civic clubs that have been running it for giving the port the opportunity to take on this project for the community. Originally built as a grocery store, the building has served a variety of functions over the years. In the 1980s, it was purchased by a nonprofit organization formed by four community service organizations. The community center’s board asked the port to take over the center, which it did in July.
Kuest also assured the community that the building will remain open for public use, including weddings and quinceanera celebrations. In fact, the building has reservations into next year, he said.
“It is still going to be available for community use,” he said.


— By Jill FitzSimmons,

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