It will cost $1 million more than expected and open a year later than planned, but construction of the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery is finally nearing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
Robert Tremain, the county’s general manager of cultural services, said construction of Lambton’s new art gallery at the corner of Lochiel and Christina streets in Sarnia is now expected to be finished in March, with a grand opening this fall.
The gallery, named after a Judith and Norman Alix, is being constructed inside the more than 100-year-old former Sak’s building and leased space above the adjoining CIBC bank building.
In 2009, Lambton County bought the new digs and approved a $9.3 million plan to build the gallery within the walls of the historic structure and move it from leased space at Bayside Mall.
A new report from John Innes, Lambton’s general manager of financial services, said the bill has grown to $ 10.3 million.
The good news for the county, according to the report, is that its share hasn’t increased beyond the $ 2.6 million county council agreed to spend in the beginning.
A federal grant of $ 3.9 million and community fundraising campaign will cover the rest, the report says.
The downside is that the gallery won’t have everything that was originally envisioned for it during the planning stages, but county planners are quick to point out that the new gallery will still be a huge improvement and a significant aspect of the downtown’s revitalization.
Also gone for now is a $ 500,000 gallery endowment fund that was to have come from fundraising.
The new report says that the campaign is $ 551,000 short of $ 3.5 million, but the county’s general manager of cultural services, Robert Tremain, said “there is every indication” the goal will be met.
A tight timeline required by the federal funding also led the county to use a “design-build” approach that shortened planning and preparation time needed before the builder, PCR Contractors of Windsor, began work at the site.
But, the report says, “The disadvantage is that because the design is not being finalized at the time the contract is awarded, there are often far more unanticipated costs encountered as the project moves forward.”