City gymnasium is a dream come true
Florence City officials and supporters gathered at the Barnes Street site for the 35,000 square foot city gymnasium soon to be constructed diagonally across the street from the Barnes Street Recreation Center. This gymnasium has been long overdue, according to Mayor Stephen Wukela and other speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Making comments were City Councilwoman Teresa Myers Ervin, who has been working to get a city gymnasium since before 2010 when council voted 4-3 against it, along with Danny Ellerbe of the Parks and Beautification Commission, Dee Brooks-Lyde, Volunteer Board President of the Florence Youth Basketball League and City manager Drew Griffin. “We are fulfilling a dream that has been a long time coming, said Drew. “We’ve talked about it for decades.
At times it didn’t seem like it would happen, but here we are in 2016 breaking ground.” The brick facade facility will include three full-size basketball courts, (two of which can be turned into half courts), concessions, a hospitality/lobby area, office space, restrooms, storage and program rooms. The purpose of the new facility is to accommodate the city’s growing youth and adult basketball programs and create a sports tourism venue to attract competitive tournament play in basketball, volleyball and the increasingly popular sport of pickleball.
On May 12, 2014, City Council approved $4,500,000 in funding for the construction of a gymnasium. The city selected Collins & Almers Architecture, along with McMillan, Pazdan & Smith Architecture for the project’s design. A team of city staff, in conjunction with youth basketball league board members and local travel basketball organizations, worked with these firms to design a facility that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
The Drs. Bruce & Lee Foundation contributed $750,000 toward the design and construction. With these additional funds, the facility will include a brick facade and arched entryways, representative of mid-twentieth century architecture. The construction of the gymnasium was publicly advertised and bid in December, 2015. A total of six bid proposals from qualified general contractors were received.
After careful review and evaluation of the bid proposals, BPM Construction out of Charlotte, N.C., was selected as the general contractor for the gymnasium project. Construction of the new gymnasium will begin soon and expected to take one year until completion. It will be built on the southeast corner of Barnes and Sanborn Streets behind the John L.McMillan Federal Building.