The OCCC Board of Regents approved a contract on June 27 to be awarded to Downey Contracting, the company that will build the new theater at the Visual and Performing Arts Center.
“It’s an ambitious project,” said OCCC President Paul Sechrist.
“We knew that from the beginning, so to have this very significant milestone of awarding a construction contract … is something that I think we can all feel very proud of.”
Regent Mike Voorhees said the project would cost a little more than $20 million, which exceeds the anticipated $16 million cost when the project was approved three years ago.
“Over three years, there was some changes in the plans and, of course, some price increases,” Voorhees said. “Part of it is an increase in the square footage of the new building.”
Voorhees said more than $17 million has already been set aside for theater construction. With other available funds bringing in more than $2 million, he said, funding the project will not be a problem.
Sechrist said he is excited about the new theater and looks forward to the impact it will have on students.
Some of the performing arts programs currently hold concerts off campus because there isn’t enough room for them onsite, he said.
Once the new theater is completed, those student activities will be able to be held on campus.
Sechrist said the theater also would serve as a venue in south Oklahoma City for cultural arts.
“The community has long asked us for a venue that we can have cultural programming for them to bring their families,” he said.
Sechrist described the college as being the “heart of cultural programming” in south Oklahoma City. With OCCC’s prime location between downtown Oklahoma City and the University of Oklahoma, Sechrist said the college could provide a cultural experience for citizens living in this area.
“It just provides a venue that will allow us to really solidify that position as being a provider of cultural activities for people in south Oklahoma City, as well as our students,” he said.
Although plans for the theater were approved three years ago, construction was postponed as the focus was shifted toward completion of instructional buildings, Regent James White said.
“I think we did the right thing by making sure that our instructional needs are met first,” Sechrist said.
“That really allowed us to have the capacity to support the enrollment growth.”
Over the past few years, several instructional buildings have been completed on campus, including the Science, Engineering, and Math Center, the Health Professions Center, and phase one of the Visual and Performing Arts Center, all of which are classrooms and labs, Sechrist said.
Dusty Morris, OCCC student, works for Downey Contracting. He said the company has completed several jobs in the Oklahoma City area, including the Oklahoma City Zoo, the Myriad Botanical Gardens and several schools.
Construction of the theater is expected to take about 600 days, White said.
The existing Visual and Performing Arts Center is intended to be open during the construction period, said Walt Joyce, Triad Design Company architect.
However, he said, some classes may need to be relocated temporarily during some of the more dangerous parts of the construction.