Center’s Cost Gives Council Sticker Shock

City officials expressed shock after a cost estimate for the planned community center came in more than $2 million over what was expected.

Council members said the $9.8-million price tag is unacceptable and will have to be whittled down if the center is to be built.

“I was appalled, absolutely thunderstruck,” Councilwoman Margie Rice, a proponent of the center, said of her reaction to the latest cost estimate.

Rice said she would never approve a center that costs that much and believes her council colleagues would not either.

Earlier this year, the council said it would pay no more than $7.6 million to build the center on city land at 15th and Monroe streets. The center, in the most recent proposal, would include a 425-seat performance hall and a catering facility that can handle as many as 500 people, City Manager Don Vestal said.

Vestal is planning to go back to the center’s architect, GKK Corp. of Irvine, to determine ways to trim the costs to meet the council’s expectations.

The council will decide Sept. 22 when to set a study session to have a more serious discussion of the project.