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City OKs agreement with amphitheater architect

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The city will pay a Cleveland architect up to $15,000 to complete pre-design work for the renovation of the Custer-Nugent Amphitheater in Mill Race Park.

Westlake Reed Leskosky will bill the city one lump sum of $8,000 for a work session to obtain public input and a presentation to the city council and up to $7,000 based on hours spent preparing and revising the plans that the architectural firm has already presented.

Mayor Kristen Brown, who also serves as president of the redevelopment commission, said the point of this preliminary work is for the firm to get more public input about the project. That way, Brown said, Westlake Reed Leskosky will have a more concrete idea of what the community wants to see the amphitheater become before architects work on schematic designs.

The commission is hiring the Cleveland firm on the recommendation of a steering committee, made up of representatives of local business, residents and arts supporters.

The steering committee has been identifying issues and possibilities for renovating the amphitheater since April 2013.

The committee chose to recommend Westlake Reed Leskosky as the architect for the project based on the flexibility and creativity of the firm’s design.

The Westlake Reed Leskosky proposal calls for demolishing the current stage to construct a new, wider stage that would sit farther back, opening an additional 240 seats that could be reserved for VIPs. The conceptual designs also call for a canopy over the audience in the mound and side curtains on the stage, both of which could be retracted depending on weather and the needs of the performance.

The designs also call for a performers pavilion to be built near the stage, where entertainers could have a space to prepare. The pavilion would include areas for dressing rooms, catering prep, production and a green room. The firm’s conceptual design for the pavilion allows for multiple uses, including an orchestra performance, a musical act, a rock concert with multiple acts, an outdoor wedding reception or a graduation ceremony.

The architects had three different cost options for the project, ranging from $3 million to $4.3 million, depending on how much work is done to the structure and what performance equipment is included.

In addition to the $15,000 approved by the commission, the architects also had proposed a $5,000 lump sum to cover travel costs for presentations to the redevelopment commission and the city council July 28 and Aug. 5.

But the mayor asked for that figure to be removed from the contract, saying she didn’t find it appropriate for the firm to charge the amount after the fact when the architects had indicated they were doing the presentations without charge as a sort of extended audition with the city.

City redevelopment director Heather Pope said the work session and presentation to city council has not been scheduled yet. Those meetings will be finalized once the amended payment agreement is signed by city officials and the architect, she said.

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