It's taken more than six years, but construction on the new Hancock County Civic Center is finally underway. And the $2 million facility is different than any other post-Katrina rebuild in the Bay.
The steel frame of the civic center isn't coming out of the ground, it's towering above a downtown parking garage.
"It's kind of unique in this vertical phasing of a project. We don't know of any other precedent in Hancock County for a project like this," said Project Architect Allison Anderson with Unabridged Architecture Firm.
The old Civic Center on Longfellow Road lost in Hurricane Katrina simply could not be rebuilt in the same location. Elevation requirements would have made it too expensive. So going up on top of the parking garage was the best solution.
But elevation isn't the only construction challenge. The Civic Center is right next to the railroad tracks.
"Because we have a lot of doors and windows facing the tracks, we had to create a kind of perimeter seals around those doors and windows. We also created an area for sound absorbing materials inside and on the porch to intercept the sound before it comes inside. So when there's a wedding going on inside, they won't have to stop the wedding for the train," explained Anderson.
The $2 million building will tower nearly 50 feet in the air once the roof structure is completed giving visitors to the facility a bird's eye view of downtown Bay St. Louis.
"You see the courthouse, you see the church steeples. You can see Cat Island, you can see the Bay. It's an amazing view. You're in the tree tops up there."
The building is expected to be ready for use sometime this summer. The $2 million price tag on the building is being covered by a community development block grant, FEMA money and county insurance proceeds.
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