Southaven Board of Aldermen gave the green light to Mayor Darren Musselwhite to get the ball rolling on design work for future improvements at the amphitheater at Snowden Grove.
The task order will allow UrbanARCH Associates to develop a master plan to improve the concert venue.
Musselwhite said the goal is to add more permanent seating, concessions, and bathrooms, which will make the venue more attractive to promoters and bring in more revenue and better artists for residents.
“Before we seek bids, we have to approve a task order to design it and prepare it for bid,” Musselwhite said. “This is a design that could possibly be a two-phased approach. You would be paying the costs for design up front and the architectural fees that UrbanARCH had in the past would only be charged to you as you build. But the main thing to know is you do pay for the design up front.”
The task order sets the architectural and engineering fees at 5.5 percent of the projected cost of the improvements. The project is expected to cost between $7 to $9 million in total, depending on what is included in the project.
Brian Bullard, owner of UrbanARCH, said the design will include a number of improvements which do not have to be built all at once.
“What we did was, I presented you with a master plan concept of everything we think the amphitheater needs over the next several years,” Bullard said. “And then the mayor asked me if we could go ahead with the design. What that involves is us doing the design portion, but maybe not necessarily the construction portion because you all will want to see the bids first.”
Bullard said the board will get another task order in the future once they determine through the bid process exactly what features they want to build.
“What is before you at this time is only the design and bidding process just to get you to the point where we know and where you can select what you are going to bid since it includes what some might call a grocery list,” Bullard said. “We are going to design it all then we will bid it out to see how much you can afford. And we will charge a small construction administration (fee) at that time.”
Musselwhite asked if there is any time limit on when the agreed upon fees would expire.
“Let’s say if we come back a couple of years later and finish it, we’re paying upfront,” Musselwhite said. “Are there any retrofit charges or anything like that we would be responsible for?”
Bullard acknowledged there would be a slight fee to bring the plans up to date depending on the changes, but that the documents should be good for at least the next ten years.
“Oftentimes what happens is people sleep on it for a couple of years, or you have administrative turnover and people may come back and say we want to change this at this point in time,” Bullard said. “At that point, we still have the basics. We just have a small add-on fee to modify it at that time. But this should be, in my opinion, considered a master plan moving forward for many years to come. Whatever we design now will still be good for even ten years down the road.”
Musselwhite said the fees are typical of what they have paid in the past, and that the city will save money by paying for the design up front.
“If we don’t make any changes, there is an advantage for us paying up front because it is saving us money from having to redesign it at a later date,” Musselwhite said.