By Curt Yeomans
The lobby of the Clayton County Performing Arts Center has been stripped of much of the green carpeting that had covered the floor since the facility opened in 1990.
The carpeting on the stairwell leading to Ernest L. Stroud Hall, the largest of the facility's three auditoriums, remains intact, but it too will soon be gone.
By mid-August, beige tiles will cover the lower portion of the lobby floor with a similar color painted on the walls. The new carpet on the stairs, and upper portion of the lobby, and in the vestibules leading into Stroud Hall will be a mixture of beige, tan, light brown and blue, said Anita Lloyd, the Clayton County school system's coordinator for the Performing Arts Center.
Lloyd said structural supports are going to be built in the ceiling to hold brass chandeliers, which she said will be purchased through financial donations that will be solicited from community members and businesses.
"We're looking forward to a new face for the little lady," Lloyd said. "The new look is going to be elegantly simple."
When the $288,767 renovation project at the Performing Arts Center is completed next month, the facility will not only have a refurbished lobby area, but new fire alarm and air conditioning systems.
Renovation work began on July 7 on all three areas of the project, said Jason Pritchett, the assistant superintendent overseeing the renovations for the Norcross-based Hogan Construction Group. Throughout the renovations, no events are being held at the facility, and its offices can only be reached through side doors.
Since all three areas of the renovations are being worked on simultaneously, Lloyd said the anticipated completion date for the construction project has been moved up by nearly two weeks, to Aug. 15. She said the original completion date was scheduled to be Aug. 28, the day before the Performing Arts Center is set to host a National Gym Association bodybuilding competition.
A day after that competition, the center is also scheduled to host a People to People Student Ambassadors information session, which 1,200 people are expected to attend, Lloyd said.
"They are working on the air conditioning and lobby at the same time, so that will make the completion date move up a little bit, which is great," Lloyd said. "We have two big shows coming in at the end of August, so that will work out well for us."
Pritchett said approximately 98 percent of the lobby area's old carpet has already been removed, and construction crews are expected to begin tile work by the end of next week, with installation of the new carpet scheduled to begin three weeks from now.
Behind the Performing Arts Center, technicians from Ball Ground-based Cool-Tech HVAC, Inc., are removing an estimated 200 pounds of freon from the facility's two chillers, which will be replaced as part of the installation of a new air conditioning system, said Chris Roth, a lead technician from Cool-Tech.
Pritchett said the freon from the old chillers will be taken to the school system's maintenance facility in Jonesboro. School system Acting Chief Operations Officer Cephus Jackson said the freon is to be disposed of.
Pritchett said crews are working to complete what he called "a minor makeover" by the new mid-August completion date. He said that although recent rains have created some delays for the air conditioning replacement project, much of the renovation work, like that being done in the lobby and on the new fire alarm system, is being done inside the Performing Arts Center so it is still on schedule.
"We're going to do our best," Pritchett said. "We're pushing to get everything done as quickly as we can."
Lloyd said that while the bodybuilding competition will be the first event held in the Performing Arts Center after the renovation work is completed, the school system is aiming to hold a ceremony commemorating the "little lady's" new look a month later, during a concert featuring a performing group with a widely recognizable name.
"We're looking at a possible re-grand opening of the Performing Arts Center on Sept. 18, which would coincide with our Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concert that will be held on the same day," Lloyd said.