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DENVER — Superintendent Brad Laures knew when the precast concrete walls of Denver Community Schools’ new auditorium arrived in town.

People began texting and calling him and Board of Education members as they saw semi trailers making the delivery. It would have been hard to miss the walls.

“These cement panels are 42 feet high and they weigh 55,000 pounds each,” said Laures. “This community is so excited about this project. It created a lot of buzz.”

By early last month, the walls had been erected on the district-owned former soccer and baseball fields near Donna and Schneider streets, where the $10.4 million Cyclone athletics and fine arts facility is being constructed. A number of metal posts are still bracing the walls.

Panels that will make up the gymnasium walls and other portions of the building will come in two December shipments. The entire facility is expected to be finished by next fall.

About a half mile from the district’s school campus on East Eagle and Lincoln streets, the athletic and arts complex is the first phase of what officials hope will eventually be a new secondary school. “We think in about 10 years we’ll have a phase two,” said Laures.

The auditorium is in the southwest section of the building. Footings for the remainder of the facility have been poured to the east and north of the fine arts wing. The gym will be directly east of the auditorium.

During a recent tour of the site, Laures pointed out where the locker rooms, elevator and entryway will be at the building’s north end. A newly constructed road will pass in front of the facility.

The building was designed by Struxture Architects and the project manager is Cardinal Construction, both of Waterloo. There are 17 different subcontractors on the project.

In the auditorium, contractors with Cedar Rapids-based Cedar Valley Steel were near the top of the building, working on roof panels that had been put in place with the help of a crane. That portion of the building is expected to be enclosed within the next month.

The stage will be at the south end of the auditorium, which will seat 500 people. “We’ll have a fairly nice-sized back stage area with a bathroom and changing area back there,” said Laures.

The district’s performance stage now is located in the gym, he noted. “So, this will be a welcome addition for our fine arts.” The current gym has handicapped accessibility issues and bleacher space for 800 people.

“Our seating is very tight,” said Laures. “Not a lot of space for kids to be kids.” Spectators line up along the entryway during games and the school’s ability to host post-season events is limited by the gym’s size.

The new gym will seat 1,500 people. A 200-meter walking track will be suspended above the gym floor. On the west side of the facility will be the weight room and a press box, overlooking the football field and outdoor track.

“It will be a really nice feature to be incorporated into the side of the building,” said Laures. The former press box, which stood in the same area, was demolished last spring.

In February, voters approved a $7.2 million bond issue to pay for the most of the project, which raised district taxes. Other funding includes $1.5 million in 1 percent sales tax revenues and $500,000 in physical plant and equipment levy funds. The remainder will be made up through fundraising.

“We’re still raising money for this project,” said Laures. “Our plan was to raise $1.5 million. We’ve got a little over $1 million.”

People can make general contributions to the project. They can also have their donations pay for a bleacher seat ($200) or a theater seat ($500). Contributors will be recognized with a plaque in the gym or on individual seats in the auditorium.

Laures suggested the new complex will help the district to begin matching its facilities to the quality of its programs. “Instead of having the worst facilities in the area, we’ll have facilities that make our citizens and our students really proud of what we have to offer,” he said.

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Courier

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