WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Renovations at the Porter County Expo Center officially began Tuesday with a groundbreaking ceremony signalling the start of the $3.2 million renovation project.
The Expo Center has hosted millions of visitors and thousands of events since it opened in 1984.
The project includes:
- Interior and exterior renovation of the main building.
- Replace failing HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems.
- Installation of a new sound system.
- Addition of an outdoor patio.
- Cosmetic and restroom upgrades in the Expo East building.
- Bringing both buildings and restrooms into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act .
“Most people aren’t aware that the Expo Center is a self-supporting department of county government in that their operating costs must be covered by the revenues they generate,” said Board of Commissioners President Jeff Good, R-Center. “These renovations will assure their continued success for decades to come.”
With the renovation, county officials say, the Expo Center will have the ability to attract the higher revenue events, as well as reclaim corporate and nonprofit events that were once there on annual basis, plus successfully compete in the lucrative wedding reception market.
“We are so excited because this project is going to open many doors that were previously closed to us,” Expo Director Lori Daly said. “During construction, we are going to be out aggressively marketing our new and improved venue. Plus, we are already getting calls from past vendors who want to come back to the Expo.”
The main building and Expo East are closed during construction, but they will continue to host some events in outdoor spaces and other buildings. The project is expected to be completed by the end of April. The renovations were designed by Shive-Hattery, an architecture and engineering firm in Valparaiso, with construction project management by Skillman Corp.
The Expo Center project is part of a $30 million capital upgrade plan introduced in 2017 to address deferred maintenance on county-owned buildings.