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Major project planned at The Expo

The shared regional facility would provide a community center for Central Point, a regional event center and evacuation facility
The Expo served as an emergency shelter in 2020 for those displaced by the Almeda fire. County and Central Point officials are proposing a new facility at The Expo that could serve as a recreation center, events center and emergency evacuation facility.[Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
A site plan shows the location of a proposed new regional facility at The Expo. [ORW Architecture]

CENTRAL POINT — City and county officials are working on a $60 million project at The Expo to create a facility that would serve residents in good times and bad.

Central Point City Council will discuss plans Thursday for a shared regional facility that would cost between $50 million and $62 million, depending on final design selection.

A community center would take up part of the expansive, co-financed facility — while an even bigger chunk would be utilized as a regional evacuation center and much-needed event center for The Expo.

Central Point Public Works Director Matt Samitore said city officials have been discussing construction of a $10 million to $12 million community center near Central Point Elementary since before the pandemic.

Jackson County and Expo officials reached out to the city last year proposing the shared facility. With construction costs constantly on the rise, Samitore said, the partnership sounded like a good opportunity for all three entities.

If built, the city would utilize just under a third of the proposed structure, while The Expo and Jackson County officials would utilize the remainder for a range of uses.

A significant need for a regional evacuation facility was demonstrated after the 2020 Almeda fire. The evacuation shelter portion would include two large shower/changing areas, with family changing rooms adjacent to exterior access for victims who might have to stay overnight in the facility parking area.

Following the Almeda fire, thousands of people were without shelter for extended periods of time, and local hotels and emergency shelters were strained beyond capacity.

The facility is slated for a parcel of land currently used for overflow parking next to existing Expo facilities and the Family Fun Center.

In addition to functioning as an emergency center, the proposed facility would include up to eight gymnasiums, classrooms, kitchens and other recreational amenities.

With three design options on the table, the square footage could vary based on the option chosen by the three entities.

Samitore said City Council members would review the three options Thursday and rank them in order of preference.

Future conversations would involve how to fund the city’s portion of the project, but Samitore said it was likely that the city would have to implement a fee to cover some of the cost.

“A big factor in this, and in a lot of things right now, is how much are construction costs and materials going to go up over the next few years,” Samitore said.

“Jackson County and the Fair Board have already voted on their priorities, on rankings of three options. We’re working on figuring out the financial obligations for the city depending on which option is chosen. There are still a lot of details to be worked out.”

Samitore said an intergovernmental agreement would iron out how the facility would be run, with emergency/evacuation needs having priority.

Samitore said a timeline had not been set for construction of the project. Additional meetings will be scheduled after all three entities concur on a preferred design and cost-sharing.

“It’s a big project,” he noted.

“If you break it down, Central Point’s portion would be 25% to 30% of this $60 million complex. We still have a lot of work to do to figure everything out.”

Facility options

Option 1: 131,370 square feet

This is the preferred option for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and the Jackson County Fair. It would include eight gymnasiums, various breakout rooms/classrooms, a large dining area and joint offices. Estimated cost: $60 million to $61.6 million.

City portion: $16.2 million to $18.5 million.

Option 2: 103,700 square feet, plus a 20,600-square-foot outdoor covered area

A reduced version of option 1, it would include smaller eating areas, classrooms and gathering areas. Gyms number 7 and 8 would be outdoors (but covered), and the city would not have a dedicated gym space of its own.

Estimated cost, $54 million to $55 million, with the city’s portion estimated at $13.5 million to $14.8 million.

Option 3: 103,700 square feet

Similar to option 2, minus the covered area for the two outdoor gym spaces. Option 3 would provide more outside meeting/gym space, but it is designed in a way that would be harder to eventually expand the facility. Estimated cost, $50 million to $51 million, with the city’s cost estimated at $12.5 million to $13.8 million.

Reach reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or bpollock@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal.