FLORENCE — The City Council could approve the creation of an authority tonight that would make possible the construction of the new Florence-Lauderdale Tourism office.
The meeting agenda includes an item to create the Public Building Authority. If approved, it would become the funding vehicle for the new visitors center in McFarland Park.
“The way the tourism board is set up under the legislative act, they cannot borrow money, but they can repay it,” said Dick Jordan, president of the City Council.
The arrangement is for the city to borrow $2 million from Regions Bank to build the visitors center, and the tourism board will repay the money with lodging taxes in the form of a lease for the building, he said.
Libby Jordan, director of cultural tourism at Florence-Lauderdale Tourism, said bids will be solicited for construction of the 7,500-square-foot building beginning next week. She said work should start in March 2013 and be completed by midfall.
“This will not obligate the city for the debt or be reflected in our debt accounts,” Dick Jordan said.
Tourism is presently housed in an office in the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa complex. The new office will be built on the site of the old golf pro shop in McFarland Park next to Florence Harbor.
Libby Jordan said the old building will be demolished and the property built up an additional two feet to raise it above the Tennessee River flood level.
“We’re very excited about this,” she said. “The exhibits will tell the story of our area.”
The City Council meets at 5 p.m. in the City Hall auditorium on Pine Street. The work session begins at 4 p.m.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.