Frank Goodman surveys construction and renovations inside the James M. Trotter Convention Center in Downtown Columbus Tuesday afternoon. A $2.3 million renovation of the 27-year-old convention center is expected to be completed in December. Photo by: Zach Odom/Dispatch Staff
August 18, 2014 10:12:01 AM
Frank Goodman was hired to oversee Trotter Convention Center six months before construction work on the facility was completed in 1987. Trotter was created through a renovation and conversion of the old National Guard Armory and city auditorium.
That was the last time he got to see a major renovation of the building until this year.
"I'm just glad to see this being done," Goodman said. "This is something that has been near and dear to me."
The current $2.3 million overhaul is being financed by yearly $225,000 installments from Columbus Light & Water in lieu of taxes.
Installation of a new air conditioning unit and new roofing is complete. Crews have ripped up the old carpet in the downstairs lobby and three meeting rooms as well as the main lobby from the Fifth Street entrance.
Lighting inside the downstairs Santa Maria, Nina and Pinta rooms has been taken out, soon to be replaced. The downstairs restrooms have been gutted and will eventually have new granite counter tops as well as automatic faucets and hand dryers.
Last week, workers also removed old lighting in the main ballroom. The old wallpaper has been taken down. The ceiling will be painted a darker color than its current white in an effort to get better lighting, Goodman said. Old carpet has been removed from the ballroom's upstairs seating area and will be replaced with wood. Crews are expanding the control room and updating the sound system.
Architect Major Andrews is in the main lobby talking on the phone to a contractor about design specifics. He said the updated ceiling and floor tiles will have more natural, earth-tone colors than before.
"Everything is progressing right along," he said. "We're still shooting for the December deadline."
The only portions of the building that won't receive work are the back hallway, the kitchens and Goodman's office.
"I think we're getting the most for our buck," Goodman said. "The areas for the people to use is where we're throwing the money."
Goodman said while the project means there won't be any more events held at the Trotter for the rest of the year, he's booked for every weekend in 2015.
"If you do it, you've got to figure the revenue you're losing and plus just shutting it down for the people who are getting to use it," Goodman said. "This building is really used. We don't go a weekend where we don't have somebody in here. There's going to be a niche for this building. Always. We've got perpetual functions that have been going on ever since I've been here. Those things are going to continue to be here."
Goodman said he'll likely be retiring next year and wanted to see the new Trotter hosting events before he left.
"It'll be a good swan song for me to go out," Goodman said.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
1. Two local nonprofits get Dutch Oil grants COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Industrial park legal challenge will delay project STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY