Outdoor space planned for Breckenridge Commons

Aug. 27, 2014 @ 02:50 PM

After meeting in closed session for more than an hour, the Henderson City Council decided to donate a city-owned parking lot to the Embassy Cultural Center Foundation Inc., which helped raise $20 million for the construction of the new library and performing arts center on Breckenridge Street.

The parking lot at the corner of Chestnut and Breckenridge streets — used for Henderson Police Department and library parking — was donated on the conditions that the foundation pays for grading and paving the lot with asphalt and landscaping the area.

That work will be done before July 2017, according to the agreement between the city and the foundation.

The foundation has also agreed to construct an outdoor pavilion near the Montgomery Street portion of the lot based on plans presented to the council — also to be completed before July 2017. That portion of the city block is an open grassy area currently.

City Manager Ray Griffin said the construction of an outdoor pavilion enhances the project on Breckenridge Street, which will be called Breckenridge Commons.

“With that part under construction, the embassy has decided there is an opportunity to compliment the indoor venue,” he said, referring to the performing arts center — which will be called McGregor Hall. “That property laid fallow for well over a decade. This is an opportunity to develop a vacant lot, and it seems to go well with the overall concept of the embassy square vision.”

While the city is donating the land, Griffin said the foundation would be responsible for resurfacing and improvements that the city would not have to fund.

“It’s cost avoidance,” he said.

The agreement states the new facilities, including the outdoor pavilion, will be available to members of the general public and that any charges or fees must be reasonable.

John Wester, president of the board of the Embassy Cultural Center Foundation, said McGregor Hall is the second phase of the project, and the third phase is the conversion of the lobby used to enter the library and McGregor Hall into an individualized space.

“This space is the gem in the crown of Breckenridge Commons and has unlimited potential as a space that will evoke inspiration and contemplation,” he said.

He said the outdoor pavilion proposed in the corner lot would be in an ideal location with adequate parking and security.

“This is a win-win scenario whereby the Embassy Cultural Center Foundation, the city of Henderson and the general public will all benefit,” he said.

The new agreement replaces the foundation’s one-year lease that had been signed for a portion of the city’s lot.

Wester said a lease would not be in the city’s best interest.

“It effectively eliminates the capability of the ECCF to make any further investment in providing additional facilities that would serve the public,” he said. “It also reduces the opportunities the embassy is currently attempting to address.”


Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.