MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Cook Convention Center has been cleared for its long-awaited renovation project.
The convention center’s commission approved a contractor for the construction bid.
Renovation is set to begin next month.
“This is a natural progression of what we need to do in a city that really has momentum and that is attracting more and more visitors,” said City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen.
The project hasn't been without challenges.
It took the city 3 rounds of bidding and some re-prioritizing of wanted upgrades to find a contractor and plan that would keep them under budget.
The Hotel/Motel tax passed in 2015 allowed the city to issue $175 million in bonds to pay for the project.
“When the bids came in they were really focused on what was most important to us and that’s really making the experience good ... for the conventioneers, adding more meeting space and making sure that we deliver a quality product,” said Kane.
Memphis Tourism President Kevin Kane said if they didn't do it they were going to go backwards.
“A lot of our hometown companies use this convention center are finding it more and more challenging. And we were finding with our out-of-town customers it’s such a deficit with a building that was having a hard time competing,” said Kane.
The renovation project awarded to W.G. Yates & Sons Construction will include 32 percent participation from women and minority owned businesses, exceeding the city's project goal of 30 percent.
Kane said the project is a game changer for the city of Memphis.
"This convention center is an important economic tool for our community," said Kane.
By the fall of 2020, the Memphis Cook Convention Center will be transformed inside and out.