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Convention Center: New Year, New Look

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By Diane Turner-Hurns
Journal & Topics Reporter

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center officials have embarked on a plan to expand, paint and modernize certain exhibition halls as well as update heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems.

Between shows in Hall A on the first floor of the Rosemont convention center, workers have been tearing down old bathrooms and walls to expand and rebuild the hall. Walls and ceilings will also be repainted.

Next door in Hall C, much of the same will be done in addition to ripping out existing concession stands to be replaced by new modernized concession areas.

“It’s a work in progress that will continue through 2016, but it will not interfere with any of the shows or events that will be held here,” said DES Executive Director Christopher Stephens. “Our current and future customers should be pleased with the renovations when they are completed.”

The exhibit halls are expected to be painted grey, beige and red. The cost for painting, new bathrooms and concession stands is expected to be $2 million, Stephens said.

The full renovation project is expected to begin once architectural drawings have been submitted and approved along with a price by convention and village officials.

“We are still in that phase,” Stephens said. “As soon as the plans are set and the price is right, we can begin.”

At the Dec. 9 Rosemont Village Board meeting, trustees approved a proposal by Aria Group Architects for design development, construction document and project administration services for the DES exhibit hall interior remodeling project for a cost not to exceed $80,300.

In addition, the board approved funding to fix and replace four HVAC units as part of its regular maintenance work. Temperature Equipment Corporation will provide the work for a cost of $57,280. The company will install four, 10-ton heating and cooling units.

The DES roof will also be patched at a cost of $118,790 by WBR Roofing Company, as approved by the Village Board.

Ricardo Raya, who has worked at the convention center for more than 29 years, told the Rosemont Journal last week that the exhibition halls will look great after the renovations are completed.

Built in 1975, the DES, located at 5555 N. River Rd., has 840,000 sq. ft. of flexible exhibition space, six exhibition halls, a 30,000 sq. ft. lobby, ballrooms and several meeting rooms.

Each year, DES officials note, approximately 1.35 million people visit the convention center to attend over 100 trade shows, conventions, meetings and expositions.

Recently, the convention center underwent massive renovations that received positive feedback from customers, businesses, residents and more. Those renovations included updating the garage; the 9,400 linear-foot covered and climate-controlled walkway modernization; new signage; conference center renovations; new furniture, artwork, windows, lighting, wall-trim, fabrics and movable wall systems.

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