The long-planned renovations at the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center are well underway, and the facility is undergoing far more than just a face-lift.
Royal Palm Beach Parks & Recreation Director Lou Recchio gave a tour of the building this week, which has moved from the demolition phase to the construction phase of the project.
All of the interior walls have been removed, as have the walls and hallways for what were the two meeting rooms in the original version of the facility.
“There will be nothing like this anywhere else in the western communities,” Recchio said.
What he is talking about is a 4,000-square-foot expansion of the facility that has a price tag of approximately $3.5 million. The Royal Palm Beach Village Council earmarked the money, which was budgeted as a capital improvement.
Anatom Construction has an agreement that calls for the renovation project to be completed in 300 days, from start to finish.
This is the largest construction project for the village since the opening of the 62-acre Commons Park in 2013. Anatom was also the construction contractor on that endeavor.
Commons Park is still having amenities added — such as the recently completed amphitheater — but Recchio’s department is now focused on getting the cultural center up and running as soon as possible.
The building was originally built in 1992, but the kitchen and restrooms — which were themselves recently renovated — have been sealed off during the project.
At the back of the building there used to be two meeting rooms, but when the project is completed, there will be a total of four meeting rooms that can be set up into any configuration because of sliding accordion dividers.
“We will be able to host up to 150 to 200 guests in the expanded space,” Recchio explained.
In addition to the expanded meeting rooms, the renovation calls for three new restrooms — women’s, men’s and family — to be added, along with another kitchen.
“The renovated building will allow us to host two major events simultaneously,” Recchio said.
That’s because the updated facility will have two separate kitchens. Although these are not full-service kitchens, they will provide everything a caterer would need to serve food to guests.
Four storage closets will be added by the meeting rooms, and these spaces will be used to store items for regular users of the facility, including the village’s growing senior programs.
The main room has had all of the walls removed and new concrete poured to bring the floor to one level. New ceilings, walls, flooring, lighting and much more will be part of the project.
State-of-the-art technology will be added, including HDTVs, drop-down screens, projectors and a sound system.
The original stage in the main auditorium is being kept so that performances can be given there.
Additional parking will be added on the north side of the building, and a new roof that was previously planned and funded will also be installed during the renovation.
The offices, which house the village’s senior coordinators, are also being completely rebuilt as part of the renovation.
The Cultural Center is home to many programs and events for senior citizens — including the Young at Heart Club and senior meals programs — on weekdays.
Recchio and other village officials hope that the renovated facility will be a revenue producer for the village.
The new rooms in the center — along with the banquet room in the Commons Park Sporting Center — will allow Royal Palm Beach to accommodate three large (150-plus guests) gatherings at the same time.
Recchio said he hopes that anyone who is looking for a reception hall for their wedding, a place to host a special birthday party or somewhere to have that important business or nonprofit meeting will be able to get everything they are looking for in the village’s facilities.
He also said that the facilities would also be made available for any Village of Royal Palm Beach, Palm Beach County or State of Florida agency that needs a large, public gathering venue.
Everything that normally takes place at the Cultural Center has been temporarily moved to the Royal Palm Beach Recreation Center.
“The rec center is quite cramped at the moment, but everyone is getting along and making the best of the situation,” Recchio said.