Contractors planning to bid on the renovation of the Raising Cane’s River Center Theater are doing a pre-bid walk-through of the facility today, one week before bids are due to be submitted and opened.
For at least some of the bidders, it will be the second attempt at landing the project. Earlier this year, the city-parish threw out the initial round of bids because each came in over the $18 million budget approved by the Metro Council in April 2018.
In the months since, city officials and their architects have been working to shave some $2.5 million off the cost of the project.
River Center General Manager Les Crooks says revised plans, submitted by Post Architects in May, included several modifications that should lower the estimated cost and bring the new round of bids in under budget, though patrons will likely not notice the changes.
According to the project’s lead architect, Lisa Nice, some of the modifications were made to the materials originally called for in the plans. A custom glass railing on the balcony has been replaced with a more standard railing and a less expensive type of attachment. A pricey metal mesh that was to cover the walls of the auditorium has been replaced with a fabric that will achieve the same effect but cost less
“Unless you were privy to the original design, the changes are the kind of thing you wouldn’t even notice,” Nice says.
One reason the project has proved more expensive than originally planned is because the 42-year-old theater has never been updated and needs to brought into compliance with current building code requirements.
Plans also called for an ambitious wish list of enhancements that were intended to make the theater more attractive and marketable as a performing arts venue—not only new seating and lighting, but the addition of new concession stands, cross aisles, private and corporate boxes.
The theater currently seats just under 2,000 visitors and hosts about 175 events a year. While construction is underway, at least some of those events have been relocated to the adjacent exhibition hall, which has been repurposed to house ballets and concerts.
Renovations were originally supposed to be completed in August 2020. The current completion date is now early 2021.