A longtime Tupelo institution will likely face the wrecking ball within the next couple weeks. Demolition of the Bel Air Center on Country Club Road is tentatively scheduled to begin Monday, April 19. According to Alex Farned, director of Tupelo Parks & Recreation, the official notice to proceed has not been finalized yet but is expected to be in the coming days. The contract for demolition and reconstruction has been awarded to Tupelo-based M&N Construction; the city budgeted $2 million for the total project but the first round of bids came in above that. Farned said the second round of bidding resulted in a winning bid of $1.98 million. “We are tickled to death with this,” said Farned. “We have been working on this for three years and we are so excited to get it started.” The project entails tearing down the decades-old existing building, which served as a senior citizen center and voting precinct as well as for other events such as wedding receptions and reunions. Replacement construction will include a new, 3,400-square-foot center that will be used for the same activities of the old building and a 1,300-square-foot golf pro shop. Jason Bowles, general manager of Bel Air Golf Course, said the golf course will remain open during the approximately 10 months of construction. He said the new pro shop and center buildings will have a courtyard separating them. The city has moved a temporary building onto the property for Bowles and his staff to operate from during the construction. City employees are currently removing all salvageable fixtures and furnishings before demolition occurs. Farned said the new structures will have completely modernized exteriors, quite different from the current building, which appears to have been built in the late 1960s or early 1970s; Farned said he is not sure of the age of the building. For more, 662-841-6446.
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