Anderson County Commissioners Monday approved an Inter-local agreement to purchase the Palestine Civic Center. The county plans to turn the building, which has stood empty for nearly two years, into an expo and conference center.
County commissioners propose to pay $210,000 for the property at 1819 West Spring Street. The agreement will go before Palestine City Council members next Monday.
“Our plan is to completely remodel the facility into an expo and conference center,” Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston said. “We will have conference rooms of varying sizes to meet the needs of the community.”
Built in 1981 to lure Alcoa to Palestine, the civic center needs extensive renovations.
City council members first voted to sell the Civic Center in January 2018, but reversed their decision in June of that year, planning repairs to attract quality performances to encourage tourism. Three months later, however, in September, the council reversed course again, deciding to close the Civic Center permanently and sell the building.
City officials were faced with an estimated $500,000 in repairs and renovations, including replacing outdated stage and lighting equipment, repairing the roof and flooring, reconfiguring wiring, and updating the building to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
In other action Monday, commissioners authorized issuing tax road bonds, not to exceed $6 million. The bonds are part of a $20-million road and bridge bond project approved by county voters in November 2016.
Money from the road and bridge bond project will continue to be used for permanent public improvements, including construction, maintenance, and operation of roads and turnpikes countywide.
Tax rates on the 20-year bond are set annually by Anderson County Commissioners Court.