DUNLAP — Concord Community Schools got the ball rolling on a construction project to expand and improve the Beickman Performing Arts Center.

Construction crews began the process of demolishing the existing lobby area on Wednesday

The project will expand the lobby area by about 10,000 square feet where guests can gather before and after performances.

A key feature is a glass façade and canopy supported by a steel frame that will replace the current entrance.

Other plans include doubling the restroom capacity to two men’s restrooms, two women’s restrooms and a family restroom. Currently, the venue has one men’s restroom and one women’s restroom, according to Nate Koets, director of facilities at CCS.

The renovations also include ADA entrance and seating and other renovations throughout the performing arts house.

Scott Preheim, director of the Performing Arts Center, said the process for the renovation has been a long time coming.

“It’s certainly neat and a little bit sad at the same time, but we’re certainly excited about the direction we’re heading,” he said of the process.

The Performing Arts Department at Concord High School involves approximately half of the school’s 1,500 students at the high school. Students are involved in band, choir, dance orchestra and theater.

The venue is used annually for the high school’s Christmas Spectacular. The district’s younger grades use the space for their elementary music holiday programs.

“The performing arts has been very important at Concord for many years,” said Preheim. “A lot of people aren’t aware that the facility was constructed and completed in 1975, so we’re at about 44 years that the facility has been in place.”

The total project budget is $5 million and will be paid for by lease bonds sold through the building corporation.

The project will not increase property taxes, school officials said.

The project is scheduled to be completed by late April 2020. School officials are working on finding locations to hold shows while the theater is under construction.

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