$800K to design convention center bathrooms

- The Orange County Convention Center will spend $800,000 designing new bathrooms for the West building. It is more than 30 years old now, and Capital Planning and Building Systems Manager Marc Cannata says it is past time to rebuild them.

"They are very dated. It's one of the top areas that we get complaints from our clients about our bathrooms being tired and dated."

The far north end of the West building already has new bathrooms. We wanted to know why that design was not simply replicated throughout the building. We also asked Marc Cannata: Why not just design one pair of new bathrooms and replicate it throughout the building?

"The Convention Center was built in phases. It was built in multiple phases so the bathrooms are different layouts and different designs in each of the phases."

There are 40 pairs of restrooms that have to be rebuilt, so the design cost for 80 restrooms in $10,000 for each one. It was a price that Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Commissioners accepted unanimously.

"It was competitively bid. We went through the process of making sure the costs were in line, and we are comfortable with it."

The $800,000 will come from tourist taxes collected on hotel room nights. Marc Cannata admitted that government regulations, local, state, and national are driving up the cost of this project.

"When you touch any areas, you have to bring it up to building codes, electrical codes, ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act). So a lot of this stuff when you revisit something, you have to bring it up to codes to stay compliant."

Mayor Jacobs is trying not to think about the cost, but concentrate on making convention goers happy.

"It's easy to focus on cost, but you have to focus on benefit. If our Convention Center starts to look tired and old, we lose business."

The $800,000 will be for design costs only. The Convention Center does not yet know how much it will cost to actually renovate those 80 bathrooms. They do say any work will be awarded through a competitive bidding process.

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