El Cajon moves forward with plans to reopen East County Performing Arts Center

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Curtains up is the next step for the El Cajon East County Performing Arts Center, projected to reopen its doors after nearly four years of closure. City Manager Douglas Williford said in looking at the big picture of the potential of ECPAC, that there are no short-term possibilities that would bring the arts center’s ability to sustain and bring potential revenue to the city.

Curtains up is the next step for the El Cajon East County Performing Arts Center, projected to reopen its doors after nearly four years of closure. City Manager Douglas Williford said in looking at the big picture of the potential of ECPAC, that there are no short-term possibilities that would bring the arts center’s ability to sustain and bring potential revenue to the city.

On July 9, the El Cajon City Council voted unanimously to support Williford’s proposed recommendations to get the ECPAC on the way to opening its doors sometime in 2014. Authorizing the city manager to issue a formal Request for Qualifications to hire an architect to prepare and provide construction documents ready for bid.

Things will move quickly from this point on, said Williford, coming back to city council for the approval award of an architect, approval of plans and authorization to bid construction documents, approval of bid to construction company, Request for Qualifications and proposals for a general manager, fund raising aspects of the ECPAC and any other issues that might arise.

With $2.8 million slated for the project out of the recently approved 2013-14 Budget, Williford said that after complete staff reports the estimated cost of opening the center is between $15 and $1.8 million.

“The funds that will be used to pay for these improvements will be one time only funds generated by the sale of the former Police Station, possibly supplemented by Federal CDGB funding for the ADA improvements,” he said. “There will be no on-going General Fund revenues used for these proposed improvements, therefore, the funding for the improvement of ECPAC will not be in conflict or compete with funding for on-going city operations.”

Williford said City Council and staff reviewed the ECPAC Foundations study that presented significant and useful information to the facility, as well as its operation the center and could be opened in a short amount of time with less than $500,000, but that there are much higher cost associated with additional improvements that are needed.

“The real question is not what the minimum expenditure necessary to reopen ECPAC is, but rather what is the most appropriate expenditure necessary to create the best venue we can while still being affordable,” he said. “This is especially true if the facility is to be viewed by the performing arts and entertainment community as a high quality venue useful for the long term.”

Required and desired improvements recommended for the improvements analyzed and cost projected by the chosen architectural firm hires are a new emergency generator, fire alarm/smoke detector upgrades, water system upgrade, stage curtain flame treatments, ADA compliant improvements, a new roof, smart lighting, non-stage lighting, new digital sound system, new carpeting, renovated concession area and cosmetic repairs.

For the full report go to the City of El Cajon website and download the July 9, full agenda under Item 4.1.

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