Conroe City Council hears proposal for new performing arts center

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By Beth O’Brien, reporting for Bluebonnet News of Montgomery County

Conroe City Council heard a marketing/feasibility report on a new Performing Arts Center for the City during a workshop Wednesday. Council was told a 1,200-seat theater would be best for the city. That recommendation came from Garfield Public Private, the company that conducted and presented the report to Council during Wednesday’s workshop.

“That’s the right size that will allow local arts groups to grow their audiences and programming,” said Greg Garfield, president of Garfield Public Private. Garfield said it would also be able to capture some commercial entertainment, traveling shows, concerts and theatrical productions.

Garfield said the building would also include about an 8,000-foot multi-purpose room, and would be a state-of-the-art venue with full-production equipment and capabilities for acoustic entertainment and amplify.

There are three sites Council asked Garfield to consider –  a J.C. Penney site off Interstate 45, a Spirit of Texas Bank site on W. Davis St. by Interstate 45 and Grand Central Park. Garfield said of those three sites, the Grand Central Park location ranked the highest.

Conroe City Council members listen to a presentation from Garfield Public Private on a proposed performing arts center.

The cost to build the theater is $60-89 million, and Garfield said he knows that’s a wide range, but it depends on what finishes and amenities are selected for the venue.

Garfield said they have done no design yet, but a building program, which is a table that says what kind of spaces are in the building and how they’re sized. Garfield said they haven’t put all of that on paper yet, so they’ve given Council a price range.

The time frame to build a performing arts center could be one year to design and two to three years to construct. This was presented to Council as an information-item only at this time.

Council will vote Thursday night on an amendment to the ordinance regarding types of streets in the city. Tommy Woolley, Director of Capital Projects and Transportation, presented information to Council on the proposed amendment during the workshop.

Woolley said the amendment involves the classification of streets, the depth of pavement and the width of right-of-ways.

“The most talked about one is the local streets, right now there’s a 29-foot back-to-back option, and they’re looking at smaller options based on what’s being driven by the development,” said Woolley.

Woolley said the smaller the street, the more criteria has to be met.

City Council will vote on this item at their regular meeting Thursday night at six at Conroe City Hall, located at 300 W. Davis St.

The Texas Renaissance Festival King and two of his loyal subjects promoted the “Visit Conroe” campaign at the Sept. 11 Conroe City Council workshop. The King is portrayed by Greg Taylor.

Before the Council workshop started, some special guests stopped by. The King of the Texas Renaissance Festival and some of his crew talked to Council about the “Visit Conroe” campaign and the partnership between the City and the Festival.

“We were here to reaffirm and acknowledge that partnership and to let Conroe know that we are happy and thrilled to continue for this year and perhaps other years as well,” said The King.

The King and his crew made other stops around Conroe today, including the Montgomery County Library. The Texas Renaissance Festival runs Oct. 5 through Dec. 1.

The King said they’ll conclude the festival with a three-day Keltic Christmas, and every weekend they’ll celebrate a different theme. Some of the themes include “Octoberfest,” a “Hallowed Adventure” and “Heroes and Villians.”

The Renaissance Festival is located at 21778 FM 1774 in Todd Mission. For more information, go online to www.texrenfest.com.

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