HAYWARD — Centennial Hall's convention center will remain open for business through October, a reprieve due partly to delayed redevelopment of the facility and partly to the lack of a suitable replacement venue in the area.
The 1,500-capacity center will eventually be closed as part of an ambitious plan to create a refurbished office tower and new apartment complex, along with a hotel and conference center at the site of the current venue.
The plans originally called for the center to close this month to allow the construction to begin, but economic times have held up Los Angeles-based developer Mika Group.
"The project is moving forward slower, but it's absolutely still on track," said Assistant City Manager Fran David. "Since we didn't have to close it for the project, we thought we could leave it open for some of the summer's popular events that have used the space in the past ... . It would have been a major trauma for them to find a new place."
Those events include the community volunteer recognition dinner sponsored by Supervisor Gail Steele, and others that have been using the center for years.
But the city has stopped taking reservations past October, and there's little question that the center will close after that.
Councilman Bill Quirk said they've been turning down groups who want to use the center, which the city subsidizes to the tune of $600,000 annually.
"We've been telling people not to count on the center being there next year," Quirk said. "So now we don't have business lined up next year. ... One way or another, it will be closed. Even if it doesn't have to go for (the new development), financially speaking, it will still have to go."
More detailed plans on the new development are expected to go before the city's Planning Commission in the near future.
David said that the project would start with a retrofit of Centennial Tower, then construction of the hotel and conference center, and finally residential units at the site of the current parking lot.
She said the work would take about two years, "assuming the economy picks up."
David said the city has not yet located a suitable replacement convention center.
"We're not sure at this point," she said. "We're working on a plan to identify possible places. Until the new center is built, it's going to be a struggle."
Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Reach him at 510-293-2473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.