Designs finalized; AHS to start on renovation project of music annex this January

Published 8:21 am Thursday, December 13, 2018

Once the new year starts, Austin High School music students will be seeing some major changes to their classrooms.

Everything appears to be on schedule for the start of renovations of the music annex across Fourth Street NW from Austin High School, said Superintendent David Krenz. Designs have been finalized for what will become the MacPhail Center for Music.

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The renovation project will start on the first floor of the high school’s music annex sometime in January 2019. This portion of the project will add 17,850 square feet to the existing structure. Krenz explained work will be done to the interior of the building, which will become the new choir space.

Superintendent of Schools Dave Krenz

“That should be ongoing through the summer,” he said, “and the second floor should get started late May or early June after the kids are out, and the heavy work will get enclosed there, so there won’t be problems once school starts.”

It’s anticipated that the choir room would be available for the start of the 2019-2020 school year, according to Krenz, with the second floor construction of the orchestra and band spaces aiming to be finished in December 2019.

The second floor features a 13,750 square-foot addition and will be toward the east half of the property, facing Fourth Street Northwest. The final timeframe has the project wrapping up in summer 2020, “either in August or September,” Krenz said.

Funding the project comes from a $8.7 million contribution from The Hormel Foundation, while the Austin Public Schools would pay off the remaining balance. The overall project will cost about $14.5 million, which includes interest and other expenditures, according to a previous story.

During Monday night’s Austin School Board meeting, the board approved the sale of $4.91 million capital facilities bonds to finance capital projects and related financing expenses including improvements, maintenance and repairs to the music suite. Over a 15-year-period, the project will be financed by the district from a lease-purchase agreement levy and capital facilities bonds. A referendum process would not be required.

The project concept was created from a feasibility study several years ago to gauge the interest in music instruction with MacPhail, which had indicated a significant number of people wanted MacPhail to have an association with the Austin Public Schools District.

A partnership was created, and MacPhail currently assists the district with different projects. Once the annex project is completed, the MacPhail program will be based in the renovated space and will include 11 music suites, instruction studios of different sizes for individual private lessons and ensemble training, music therapy, early childhood music classes and staff offices.

Both the high school and MacPhail programs plan to share the percussion instruction studio, recording studio and a large performance classroom once the project is finished.

“The project has gone forward,” Krenz said. “We’re meeting with the contractors, and we’re hopefully being able to start after the first of the year. Everything is done in terms of planning and all that. It’s just the manner of it getting built.”