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City ends use of dome pavilion

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

The Paducah Dome Pavilion at 600 N. Sixth St. has served its intended purpose and won't be relocated, Paducah officials said Tuesday.

According to Steve Doolittle, executive director of the Paducah Riverfront Development Authority, the city has no plans to build a new concrete pad for the dome in another location.

"The intended use (for the dome) was to be temporary," he said. "We have no specified use for it now."

The city bought the 37,800 square-foot dome for $825,250 in December 2009 because vendors at the yearly American Quilter's Society Quilt Week needed additional space after the former convention center hotel, the Executive Inn, closed in 2008. 

"Inside the Executive Inn, which was a 75,000 square foot building, there were vendors set up in the pool area and everywhere," Doolittle said.

Including concrete, other materials and construction of the pavilion base adjacent to the Julian Carroll Convention Center, the total project was estimated at $1.6 million.

The dome, commonly referred to as the bubble, was inflated for the April 2010 quilt show and every year following. Doolittle said it served as a temporary replacement for the loss of space in the Executive Inn, which was demolished in 2010 and 2011.

However, designs for the new downtown hotel, he said, were not made with quilt show vendor space in mind.

"This hotel is not designed for vendors at all," Doolittle said. "We want all convention center activity to be inside the convention center."

A Hilton Garden Inn will be built on the site of the Dome Pavilion and attached to the convention center via a pedestrian bridge.

Senate Hospitality, one of the project's partners, will operate the hotel and manage the convention center. Negotiations between Senate Hospitality and the Paducah-McCracken County Convention Center Corporation for an operating agreement are ongoing.

Developers say they expect to break ground on the new hotel this fall and construction will be finished in the second half of 2015.

Because the Hilton Garden Inn will be in its final stages of construction during the 2015 AQS QuiltWeek, the city will need to consider options to offset the loss of space from the dome area. Mayor Gayle Kaler said the most likely alternative is to use the showroom and other space at the convention center.

"We've made a commitment to the quilt show and the organizers of the quilt show that we will have space available to them," Kaler said, "and we have to live up to our commitments."

The showroom has been gutted but renovations have not begun.

While the city did talk about using the dome again in a new location as part of its Renaissance Area Master Plan (RAMP), Doolittle said officials have not pursued it with design plans.

"We decided that is not the direction we are going," he explained.

According to Mark Thompson, parks services director, the dome and its related equipment are currently being stored and eventually will be sold by its manufacturer, Arizon Structures of St. Louis.

Thompson said the city did not have a price set on the dome, but hopes to receive some offers.

Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.

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