Civic committee hires project manager

The Idaho Falls City Council will be reviewing ways to reduce the roughly $100,000 annual deficit created by operating the Civic Auditorium.

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A project manager will oversee renovations to the Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium, which during a Nov. 9 city council meeting was officially renamed the Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts.

The Civic Auditorium Committee, comprised of Idaho Falls residents and supported by city staff, brought Brad McKinsey on board to manage timelines and logistics as plans to renovate the aging city-owned Civic get underway.

“You need a project manager that can put together the schedule on what’s happening when you construct, remodel or renovate,” committee Chairman Arthur Kull said. “To manage a project takes experience and expertise.”

McKinsey also is Bonneville Joint School District 93’s owner’s representative. In that role he’s been watching over construction of Thunder Ridge High School.

The committee is expected by the end of November to finalize specifications regarding phase 1 of Civic renovations, to be paid for by a $750,000 grant from philanthropist William J. Maeck, along with matching funds from the city of Idaho Falls.

Phase 1 includes new auditorium seats, carpeting and wall paint. A handful of technical renovations will follow, including a new light-dimming system and several acoustic improvements. An electronic marquee also will be installed near Holmes Avenue.

Local interior designer Carol Johnson donated time to assist the committee in forming a color palette for new features. The palette will include rich colors typically associated with the 1950s, when the Civic was built.

“The color scheme is pretty far along, but we need to get the fabric for the seats figured out, the texture of the carpeting and so on,” Kull said.

After the committee finalizes colors and materials for the auditorium, McKinsey will solicit construction and materials bids.

Phase 1 construction likely will begin July 1 and conclude by Sept. 30, Kull said.

Phase 2 proposes repurposing city-owned classrooms directly behind the auditorium into dressing rooms and rehearsal spaces. An adjacent classroom wing also could be repurposed to offer performing arts instruction.

Phase 2’s future is murky after voters on Nov. 8 rejected a $110 million bond initiative to remodel Skyline High School and rebuild Idaho Falls High School, which is connected to the Civic. District officials haven’t determined if they will try another bond initiative.

If IFHS is rebuilt, most of Idaho Falls School District 91’s administrative offices would move to the current IFHS building, potentially opening up the Civic-adjacent classrooms, which are owned by the city.

Even if the school isn’t rebuilt in the near future, the committee can pursue phase 2 loading dock and elevator upgrades, Kull said.

“Work with the classrooms obviously is postponed, but there’s still some things we can do without impacting the school,” he said.

The committee also could prioritize phase 3, which will include an expansion of the auditorium’s front toward Holmes Avenue to create additional room for a coat check room and concession stand.

There aren’t yet timelines or cost estimates for phases 2 and 3, nor solid sources of funding, but Civic attendees could see front-of-house improvements after the auditorium’s interior is spruced up.

“We might have to do that,” Kull said. “That’s something that’s going to depend on costing out renovations and prioritizing what we want to do. That will be discussed in the next few meetings.”

Reporter Kevin Trevellyan can be reached at 208-542-6762.