Proposed city budget includes funds for Plano Centre renovations

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The Junior League of Collin County's annual 'Neath The Wreath Holiday Gift Market at Plano Centre in 2009. This is one of the oldest events to be held at Plano Centre and will return this year Nov. 4-8. The Junior League of Collin County's annual 'Neath The Wreath Holiday Gift Market at Plano Centre in 2009. This is one of the oldest events to be held at Plano Centre and will return this year Nov. 4-8.[/caption]

Talks of renovating Plano Centre will return to the Plano City Council’s table at a Sept. 14 regular meeting, when council members are expected to vote on the city’s proposed annual budget.

City Manager Bruce Glasscock has included a proposed $1.1 million for landscaping, exterior lighting and improving the center’s parking lot, said Amy Fortenberry, Plano Parks and Recreation Department director.

Funds are already in place for inside renovations, which will begin in December and are expected to be completed by May 2016. If the council approves the proposed $1.1 million for the next budget year, exterior landscaping and work on the parking lot could begin later next year, Fortenberry said. Not much has been done to the center since it was built in 1990.

“The age of the facility makes it a good time to upgrade [and] update in order to maintain an excellent facility,” said Plano Centre general manager Mark Jarrell. “The facility is just dated.”

In 2012, the City Council approved $2.5 million for renovating the center’s 122,000 square-foot interior, Jarrell said. The interior enhancements include updating audio-visual equipment used for conferences and meetings, buying new furniture, re-carpeting and installing energy efficient lights.

Plano Centre will be renamed as Plano Event Center, said Jarrell, who hopes the new name will make the purpose of the space more clear.

“The word ‘centre’ sends the message that we are an arts center,” he said.  “We are not adding any space but making sure that what we have is updated.”

Fortenberry said the department is requesting nearly $4 million that would be spread out over a period of three years to help renovate its grounds as well.

Renovating in phases would mean staying open for business during renovations, she said.

“We want to have minimal impact on customers,” Fortenberry said.

In 2014, Plano Centre recovered 40 percent of its total expenditures. This year, the cost recovery rate is 53 percent and is expected to hover near 60 percent in 2016, Jarrell said.

The center is booked on weekends about six months in advance, Jarrell said. Its customers include companies ranging from Texas Instruments to community businesses like Divine Consign resale shop.

Out-of-town conferences and trade show organizers prefer event spaces located near or in hotels where their guests can stay overnight, Jarrell said.  Places like Embassy Suites Frisco are popular, he said, because clients do not have to drive back and forth between conference space and their rooms.

In the long-term, Fortenberry said she hopes the modern and decorative facility will open an opportunity for hotels to be built in the area. In addition, converting the center into a combined facility with hotel rooms would also increase the center’s appeal, she said.
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