The selection of a design-build contractor puts construction of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo additions on track to start in mid-September, Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority, Colo., officials said Friday.

Construction is tentatively set to begin right after Pueblo's hosting of the national Medal of Honor Society convention on Sept. 12-16 at the Pueblo Convention Center, they said. A public groundbreaking ceremony could take place as early as next month.

The updated project timeline comes as Urban Renewal commissioners at a special meeting at noon Friday approved a contract with H.W. Houston Construction of Pueblo to oversee the final design and construction of the additions.

The San Antonio Riverwalk at night.
The San Antonio Riverwalk at night.

Friday's vote came three days after Urban Renewal completed the project's up-front financing by raising $17 million in a bond issue to go along with a previously approved loan of up to $14.4 million from the city of Pueblo.

The bond and city loan repayments will come mostly from the $35 million in current and future state sales taxes pledged to project under the state's Rural Tourism Act grant program.

"Here's to the end of the first part of a very big project," Don Banner, Urban Renewal chair and a Pueblo attorney, said at the close of Friday's meeting.

Houston Construction will oversee the final design and construction of the estimated $24 million project to add a 30,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 18,000-squarefoot sports training center anchored by the Professional Bull Riders and 500-space, four-story parking garage to the convention center.

The parking garage will be built on the Urban Renewal-owned surface parking lot on Main Street, across from the convention center and next to Vectra Bank. A pedestrian flyover-style bridge will connect the parking garage to the convention center.

Much of the preliminary design work for the entire $24 million project is already in place. Urban Renewal officials say they expect Houston Construction and its architectural team to present a final design plan and updated cost estimates within weeks.

Already, Houston Construction, at its own expense, has sent staff to Florida to meet with the executives of PBR and its parent company WME/IMG to begin final design of the sports performance center, local officials said Friday.

IMG operates one of the nation's premier sports training centers, the IMG Academy, in Bradenton, Fla., and also is developing a UFC-anchored center in Las Vegas. Two years ago, the global sports and entertainment giant purchased Pueblo-based PBR. The convention center work is one of two major projects in the first phase of the Riverwalk expansion. The other is the estimated $3.5 million addition of the Gateway Plaza outdoor event venue, also set for construction starting in September.

Future phases call for the addition of an aquatics center and water park, a Riverwalk boathouse/visitor center and the extension of the Riverwalk channel to Santa Fe Avenue, among other public and private improvements.

Houston Construction was one of five design-build teams to respond to Urban Renewal's recent request for proposals. It was the top choice of a majority of the Urban Renewal board in voting at the group's meeting June 13. All of the bidders made public presentations to the Urban Renewal board and staff on June 2.

Tribune Content Agency