Commercial Real Estate

Crown Event Center Committee’s newly recommended building program and project budget features a bigger space and bigger price tag

By Staff Report, posted 1 year ago

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners Crown Event Center Committee voted Wednesday, May 3 to move a recommended program for the new Crown Event Center forward to the full Board of Commissioners.

The Project Development Team (PDT) presented a recommended building program, which was developed by architectural firm EwingCole following an intensive engagement process with project stakeholders including community members, users of the existing Crown Theatre and Arena, and County Commissioners to learn what priorities stakeholders have for the new facility and what elements they want to see incorporated into the design. 

From those meetings, EwingCole developed a “Stakeholder Requested Program” of 131,500 square feet, which the PDT refined to focus on spaces that would enhance revenue generation and operational efficiency, resulting in a recommended program of 122,955 square feet.

The PDT noted that the recommended program is larger than the initial program of 89,000 square feet developed as part of the 2021 CSL Market & Financial Feasibility Study, and includes elements that were not included in that study such as a larger performance space that can accommodate 3,000 people, additional VIP spaces designed to enhance the patron experience and generate additional revenue, and additional meeting and event space that can be rented out and will allow multiple events to take place simultaneously, providing more revenue generating opportunities.

The PDT presented a cost estimate for the recommended program of $127,725,900, which includes an estimated construction cost of $104,038,000. The current Board-approved project budget is $82,500,000 and was based on the smaller CSL Study program and pricing from several years ago. Senior Project Manager Matt Desilver with MBP said the updated cost estimate was based partly on the additional programmatic elements, but also on escalation since the original cost estimate was developed, due in part to unprecedented inflation experienced over the last several years.

Vicki Evans, Cumberland County General Manager of Financial Services, presented the Committee with an updated Crown financial model created by  the County’s Financial Advisor DEC Associates. Evans said the updated project cost is affordable within the model without any assistance from the County’s General Fund. She noted that the model could also support the cost of the larger “Stakeholder Requested Program,” which was estimated at $131,703,300.

The Crown Event Center Committee voted unanimously to share all of the program options with the full Board of Commissioners and to recommend that the Board approve the PDT Recommended Program of 122,955 square feet and a project budget of $127,725,900. The recommendation will go before the full Board at their May 11 agenda session for consideration to move forward with a final vote at their May 15 regular meeting.

The Committee also went into Closed Session to discuss Real Property Acquisition pursuant to NCGS 143-318.11(a)(5).

The Crown Event Center will be constructed on County-owned property in front of the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse. The facility will replace the existing Crown Theatre and Arena, which must close by October 31, 2025. 

More information on the Crown Event Center project can be found at: https://www.cumberlandcountync.gov/departments/commissioners-group/commissioners/crown-event-center-committee

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