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ANAHEIM : City to Pick Designer for Convention Center

The city is looking to the same architectural firm that designed The Pond to create a blueprint for a major expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center, officials said Thursday.

The City Council will be asked on Tuesday to spend $1.2 million to hire the firm of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, which also designed Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, and the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

“They are a quality firm that will give us a superior design,” said Greg Smith, general manager of the city-owned convention center. “We are pleased with the work they did on The Pond, which came in under budget and ahead of time all due to the quality of design.”

If approved by the council, the Kansas City-based firm would be asked to complete a master plan for the facility and some design development by May, 1996. At that point, city officials would decide if they want the firm to proceed with complete construction documents.

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A study completed earlier this year showed that the Convention Center--already one of the largest of its kind in the nation--is in need of a major expansion and face lift to remain competitive in the tourism industry.

The study said that the tax revenue that the Convention Center generates would increase from $35 million to $42 million yearly after the improvement. With no expansion, tax revenue would drop to about $27 million, according the the study.

The expansion project, which would include more exhibit space and additional meeting rooms, would be done in phases over an unspecified period. It would be funded by a recent increase of 2 percentage points in the city’s hotel bed tax, which is now 15%.

Total cost of the expansion has not yet been determined, but it may exceed the money the increased bed tax will provide, Smith said.

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