Physicians plan to convert old Lowe's building into convention center

August 05, 2003|JOHN A. NELSON

A group of Danville physicians has purchased the former Lowe's building at the corner of the bypass and Perryville Road and will turn it into a convention center and more. The project will be formally announced at a press conference at 4 p.m. today at the site.

Dr. Madar Bux, Dr. Anjum Bux, Dr. Arthur Rivard and Dr. Thomas Serey will spend $1 million to renovate the building, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Don Vizi said this morning. Besides 11,410 square feet of open floor space that will accommodate 1,000 people in a classroom setting and seat 750 for banquets, the center will house a 27,000 square foot cinema, a 3,950 square foot restaurant, and a 4,000 square foot spa.

The plan was proposed to the group by Nina Kirkland, chairwoman of the chamber board and a real estate broker.

The need for a convention center was pronounced in March 2002 when Vizi completed a "viability study."


Vizi said the key to the project has been securing a private investor. No government money is being used or sought, he said. "Basically, Dr. Bux is paying for everything," Vizi said.

"We knew that the only way to get a convention center was to convince a private investor that it was a good idea financially, but the convention center would be a great economic benefit for the community," Vizi said in a news release.

But Vizi was quick to point out that the center is not a money making proposition for Dr. Madar Bux, an anesthesiologist, and his associates, at least not at first. "He's not going to make money," Vizi said. "He can hope to break even after three years. He just felt it was important to give something back to the community."

Vizi said if a convention center had to be built on an empty lot, the cost would be over $2.7 million. And that's with the land donated.

Operations at the center will be handled by a staff that will work for and be paid by the limited liability corporation the doctors have formed - BBRS, LLC. The Chamber will help coordinate the operations and work with other organizations to publicize the center, Vizi said.

The restaurant, theater and spa will provide an estimated 60 new jobs, according to the news release. Negotiations are under way and occupants are being sought to lease the theater and restaurant space, Vizi said.

There is also a possibility that an outpatient surgical center and doctor's office will be added in the future.

The group estimates that the center can host six major conventions each year with 300 in attendance at each one, bringing $1.8 million into the community.

Denham-Blythe Co. Inc. of Lexington has been selected to do the renovations. Danville Office Equipment will provide the majority of the equipment. Several companies have committed funds to help purchase equipment and provide services, including ATMOS Energy, Danville Office Equipment, Kirk Interactive and Bank One. There are incentives for others to contribute as well, Vizi said.

A completion date has been set at the end of November. Reservations for use of the facility starting Dec. 1 are being taken now and can be made by calling (859) 583-9307.

"This will be the largest economic development project that the community has seen in recent years," said Vizi.

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