Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Four firms in running to design events center

By Steve Vied, Messenger-Inquirer

Published: Saturday, October 2, 2010 12:00 AM CDT

The number of companies seeking to design Owensboro's downtown events and convention center has been reduced to four -- and one of them is expected to be chosen Oct. 27, a downtown official said Friday.

Downtown Development Director Fred Reeves said the four finalists were selected from the list of 26 companies that responded to a request for qualifications from architectural firms. The events center steering committee issued that request.

Sept. 13 was the deadline for receiving qualifications from the companies. Since then, a subcommittee has been poring over the submissions, some of which came from as far away as California, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Many of them have experience in designing convention centers and arenas. Several proposed partnering with local firms to design the events center that is planned for the former Executive Inn Rivermont hotel property overlooking the Ohio River north of West Second Street.

The names of the firms submitting qualifications are confidential while they are being evaluated, Reeves said.

The responses from architects were evaluated, and the finalists were selected by Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire, Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and Titan Contracting owner Mike Horn, all members of the steering committee planning the convention and events center. Haire is chairman of the committee.

After the four finalists are interviewed, Haire, Payne and Horn will recommend an architect for the entire committee's consideration.

"We will interview the four firms over the next two to three weeks," Reeves said. "We were really looking for firms with experience designing convention centers. Then we began to look for firms that would give the most interest to our project and have the kind of knowledge and experience we value. Some of them (the finalists) are large, national firms. Some are paired with other firms. Some are smaller firms. Of the four, any of them could do our project very well."

Payne said it wasn't easy cutting the list of firms from 26 to four. "We had a great group of proposals," he said. "I'm quite pleased with the final four."