Architechnics was hired earlier this year to perform an assortment of tasks regarding the development of a new visitors center in Hannibal. Architechnics is being paid $58,000 for its work on Phase 2 of the project.

Featuring elements that remind viewers of a paddle wheeler, the proposed design of the new Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (HCVB) visitors center was shared with the city council on Tuesday night.

“We’re very excited,” said Gail Bryant, director of conventions and tourism, regarding the design that was produced by Architechnics.

Architechnics was hired earlier this year to perform an assortment of tasks regarding the development of a new visitors center in Hannibal. Architechnics is being paid $58,000 for its work on Phase 2 of the project, which includes preparing construction documents, design development and construction administration/observation.

The renderings shown Tuesday night were of a two-level building. The upper level will be designed to accommodate and provide information to visitors. The lower level will feature staff offices and a conference room.

Noting the multi-level design of the building, Councilman Mike Dobson inquired about the availability of an elevator to accommodate visitors with mobility challenges. While the building will feature handicap-accessible ramps, Bryant explained that an elevator has not been included in the building’s plans because it would add “six figures” to the total cost of the project. She added there would also be an ongoing expense for maintenance of an elevator.

The new visitors center will be located at the crossroads of I-72/U.S. 36 and Mark Twain Ave., just off of Pleasant Street. It will be constructed just north of the aquatic center’s east lot.

Bryant said the site will provide “good visibility” of the building from the nearby interstate highway. Bryant added that signage is already being developed that will advise travelers of the visitors center’s close proximity.

Mayor James Hark said the planned location of the new visitors center is a “nice use of an area that was not being used.”

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

The next step in the process will be to go to out for bid, according to Bryant.

“We are at a point where we need to know the cost,” she said during Tuesday morning’s meeting of the HCVB Board. “When it goes out for bid, that’s when we will determine what we can afford and not afford. We stated that we have a budget in the range of $800,000 and that’s where we need to be.”

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. At the time Bryant stated that the HCVB’s preferred location on which to construct a new home was city-owned property near the aquatic center at Pleasant Street and Grand Avenue.

Because of potential conflicts with utility infrastructure that is buried in the area the HCVB hired an architectural/engineering firm to undertake a feasibility study in 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.

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 city council to formally ask permission to look for a new home. Bryant added that the existing HCVB building’s location no longer afforded the visibility to visitors that it did before a significant change in traffic patterns resulted after the previous Mark Twain Memorial Bridge was closed on Sept. 16, 2000. Yet another concern regarding the current location is the ongoing cost of maintaining and renovating the facility, which is a converted house.

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