‘It’s a great location.’ Phenix City mayor talks future event center that’ll seat ‘thousands’

With an estimated population of more than 36,000 residents, the largest space Phenix City has for an indoor event can seat around only 400 folks, according to Mayor Eddie Lowe.

In fact, when Central High wants to conduct its graduation ceremony inside, it does it across the Chattahoochee River in the Columbus Civic Center.

But that’s fixing to change.

The Phenix City Council has agreed to purchase land to build an event center that would have “thousands” of seats, Lowe confirmed Wednesday in a phone interview with the Ledger-Enquirer.

“We need a place where we can have events in Phenix City, being the 12th-largest city in the state of Alabama,” he said. “We need to have a place where we can host things and start thinking outside the box.”

That’s why the event center would have “Positively” in its name, to echo the “Positively Phenix City” slogan, Lowe said.

Although he emphasized the project is “in the embryonic stage” and he couldn’t fully share the plan, here are the details he did disclose:

The agreement is to pay approximately $900,000 for 22 acres off Colin Powell Parkway, where a construction contractor called The Lisle Company had operated .

“It’s a great location,” Lowe said. “The views will be outstanding, as far as being visible.”

Environmental testing is being done on the property before the deal closes. A feasibility study would follow to determine the project’s scope.

No cost estimate was available for construction of the event center.

Assistant city manager Stephen Smith said in an email to the L-E that the project would be financed over 20-25 years and funded by public-private partnerships.

The final plan would be set next year, Smith said, and construction would be done in 2021 or 2022.

A city official told the L-E earlier that the event center is envisioned to accommodate 8,000 people, but Lowe said the size hasn’t been set. He would confirm only that the seating capacity would be in the “thousands.”

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.