A handful of workers clean the floors of the Centennial Hall ballroom Wednesday evening as renovations continue. According to project’s manager, the renovation are expected to be completed in early August. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

A handful of workers clean the floors of the Centennial Hall ballroom Wednesday evening as renovations continue. According to project’s manager, the renovation are expected to be completed in early August. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Ballroom blitz: Centennial Hall space takes on a new look amid closure for renovations.

Rennovations expected to complete in early August

The last time the public saw Centennial Hall’s ballroom, it was bustling with hundreds of Juneau Public Market shoppers and vendors. About two months later, the space has been dramatically transformed.

The typical lively music, dancing people or busy conferences that would normally fill the 12,500 square feet of the ballroom has been replaced with the droning sounds of loud machinery and shuffling construction workers in hard hats and yellow vests.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
Lisa EaganLagerquist, project manager for Centennial Hall’s ballroom renovations, walks through the plastic doors placed outside the ballroom to keep the area pressurized to keep dust away from the other parts of the center.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
Lisa EaganLagerquist, project manager for Centennial Hall’s ballroom renovations, walks through the plastic doors placed outside the ballroom to keep the area pressurized to keep dust away from the other parts of the center.

The ballroom is currently undergoing its first comprehensive renovation since it first opened its doors in the early 1980s. Not only is it getting cosmetic changes like new floors, new audio and video equipment, new lighting and paint, but it’s also getting a lot of changes that will be covered up behind walls or hidden after renovations are expected to be completed in early August, according to Lisa EaganLagerquist, the project’s manager.

Some of those changes include less noticeable yet prominent safety and efficiency upgrades like updating the ballroom’s structural frame and adding new power upgrades to support the mechanical systems like new air source heat pumps which EaganLagerquist said will make the building more energy efficient than its previous systems.

EaganLagerquist and Mark Ryder, superintendent of the contracted construction company, Carver Construction, said so far the project is on schedule, save for a larger piece of equipment, one air handling unit, which EaganLagerquist said needed a delivery date and production extension and could affect the schedule.

“We’re going good,” Ryder said. “We’re mostly still in demo mode and it’s going well.”

With the nearly eight-month-long closure to the venue, places across Juneau are welcoming events that would normally utilize Centennial Hall. Places like the Juneau Arts and Culture Center and Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall have largely taken the front on inviting those events instead, according to Katie Koester, director of the City and Borough of Juneau Engineering and Public Works Department.

“We know it can be an inconvenience,” she said.

According to Assembly member Michelle Bonnet Hale, the ballroom renovation was needed for the safety and structure of the ballroom but is not necessarily a precursor to the Capital Civic Center, a proposed idea to combine Centennial Hall with a new arts and culture center that could cost up to an estimated $75 million.

In December 2021 the Assembly approved $2 million to go toward the next phase of the design that would combine the two centers, however, Hale said currently the Assembly is on hold and still waiting to hear more about the design phase.

“The work that is being done to the hall is designed to just be work that just had to happen regardless if the expansion happens or not,” Hale said. “It’s not something being pushed forward right now, but it is a priority.”

The funds for the ongoing ballroom project come from a 2019 voter-approved ballot proposition to add a 2% increase in the city’s hotel bed tax for 15 years to go toward improvements to Centennial Hall, along with another proposition that OK’d $7 million in debt to finance the repairs to Centennial Hall.

The budget for the ballroom renovation project was capped at $8 million by the Assembly when it appropriated funds for it. So far, the project is expected to come in under that, Koester said.

Koester said the construction contract was awarded to Carver Construction at $6.2 million, and the remaining budget funds will go toward things like design, project management and contingencies.

According to Kathleen Harper,Centennial Hall manager, the ballroom is already booked beginning in early September and as long as the renovations stay on time, events are lined up all throughout the fall.

“We’re constantly booked,” she said.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Feb. 5

Folks at the Alaska State Capitol openly admit to plenty of fish tales, but to a large degree in ways intended to benefit residents and sometimes even the fish. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The bizarre bills other state legislatures are considering

Alaska’s Legislature isn’t mulling the headline-grabbers some statehouses have in the works.

This photo shows snow-covered hills in the Porcupine River Tundra in the Yukon Territories, Canada. In July 1997, a hunter contacted troopers in Fairbanks, Alaska, and reported finding a human skull along the Porcupine River, around 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Canadian border. Investigators used genetic genealogy to help identify the remains as those of Gary Frank Sotherden, according to a statement Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, from Alaska State Troopers. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)
Skull found in ‘97 in Interior belongs to New York man

A skull found in a remote part of Alaska’s Interior in 1997… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Officer William Hicks stands with JPD Chief Ed Mercer and Deputy Chief David Campbell during a swearing in ceremony for Hicks on Thursday at the JPD station in Lemon Creek. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
New officer joins JPD’s ranks

The Juneau Police Department welcomed a new officer to its ranks Thursday… Continue reading

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)
Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Public defender agency to refuse some cases, citing staffing

ANCHORAGE — A state agency that represents Alaskans who cannot afford their… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall. A… Continue reading

This is a concept design drawing that was included in the request for proposal sent out by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities seeking outside engineering and design services to determine whether it’s feasible to build a new ferry terminal facility in Juneau at Cascade Point. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
DOT takes steps toward potential Cascade Point ferry terminal facility

It would accommodate the Tazlina and or Hubbard, shorten trips to Haines and Skagway

Most Read