Architechnics hired again at a cost of $58,000

The next step in the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (HCVB) plans to build a new visitors center was approved Tuesday night when the city council approved an agreement with Architechnics for Phase 2 work.

Gail Bryant, director of conventions and tourism, reported that Architechnics will perform an assortment of tasks which include preparing construction documents, design development and construction administration/observation. All totaled the work will cost $58,000.

According to Bryant, this portion of the project will take a minimum of two months to do.

“Phase 2 should take approximately 60-75 days to complete, assuming decisions are made in a timely manner,” she wrote in a memo to the council.

The new visitors center will located at the crossroads of I-72/U.S. 36 and MO 79, just off of Pleasant Street. It will be constructed just north of the aquatic center’s east parking lot. The significant difference between current diagrams and preliminary plans is the orientation of the building.

“Initially we were looking at northeast, facing more toward the bridge and river,” said Bryant. “This time after the feasibility study came back it looks like we will stay directly north of the parking lot, facing the interstate.

“It will be very visible.”

The building’s location and visibility were factors in it being selected by the Missouri Division of Tourism, once it is completed, to act as a Missouri Affiliate Welcome Center.

In September 2016, Bryant advised the city council that the HCVB Board had been researching potential locations for a new building for more than two years. The HCVB’s preferred location on which to construct a multi-level structure was city-owned property near the aquatic center at Pleasant Street and Grand Avenue.

Construction on that site became problematic after it was revealed that buried underground in that area is an extensive maze of water and sewer pipes. That prompted the HCVB Board to move forward with the hiring of an architectural/engineering firm to undertake a feasibility study of the preferred area. In May 2017, the council approved a contract worth $4,200 with Architechnics for Phase 1 work on a new HCVB office location.

Potential conflicts between the new building and Board of Public Works’ (BPW) infrastructure have apparently been resolved.

“It is my understanding Architechnics has been in contact with the BPW regarding the location and is aware of the guidelines for that usage area,” said Bryant on Wednesday morning.

Visitor and HCVB staff safety, plus a lack of parking at the current 505 North Third St. site, were cited in September 2016 by Bryant when she appeared before the council to formally ask permission to look for a new home.

Bryant added that the existing HCVB building’s location no longer affords the visibility to visitors that it did before a significant change of traffic patterns resulted after the previous Mark Twain Memorial Bridge was closed on Sept. 16, 2000.

“The current location of the building was perfect for attracting people off of Interstate 72/Highway 36 at the bridge approach and acted as an attractive welcome to Hannibal,” she said. “Without the Convention and Visitors Bureau being a visitor’s first touch point in Hannibal, the probability of them missing some Hannibal activities and attractions rises.”

Bryant added that the cost of maintaining and renovating the HCVB’s current home, which is a converted house, is prohibitive.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com