When the city hit the pause button back in the early spring on the planned Phase 2 master plan improvements for the DCU Center because of funding uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it was hoped it could be restarted in January.
Of course, no one back then foresaw that the city-owned DCU Center would remain closed seven months later. It is now expected to remain dark at least through the end of this year.
As a result, the possibility of a January restart for the project seems very much up in the air.
John Odell, the city’s director of energy and assets, told the Civic Center Commission last week that the restart will be determined when the revenue stream for it can support the work.
And with uncertainty about just when the DCU Center will be able to host events again, that makes the timeline for the project quite uncertain itself.
The Civic Center Commission has approved improvements for the DCU Center totaling $21.5 million. They are broken down into five priority areas: life safety and code compliance, deferred maintenance, public accommodations, revenue enhancements, and other enhancements/upgrades.
To finance building improvements, the city created a special DCU Finance District in 2006 that consisted of four parcels: the Hilton Garden Inn, the Residence by Marriott on Plantation Street, the DCU Center arena and convention center, and the Major Taylor Boulevard parking garage, including its retail space and operations.
In 2016 the district was expanded to include additional parcels.
Certain tax revenues generated in that district and collected by the state — hotel, meals and sales taxes — are redirected back to the city to finance the bonds for improvements in and around the DCU Center.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closing of the DCU Center in mid-March and