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Michigan set to build a $40M visitor center at state Capitol

The initial cost estimate was $55 million, but $15 million of that didn't make it through this fall's budget season.
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Michigan state capitol

LANSING, Mich. — A state commission has approved a slimmed-down project to build a $40 million welcome center on the lawn of the Michigan statehouse that will boast adjustable space for meetings and catered events.

The Michigan State Capitol Commission agreed Monday to move forward with the underground Heritage Hall project with funds appropriated in the lame duck session at the end of 2018, the Lansing State Journal reported.

The initial cost estimate was $55 million, but $15 million of that didn't make it through this fall's budget season.

Heritage Hall was originally planned as a 55,000 square foot (5,100 sq. meter) 600-seat auditorium, but the capacity was pared down to 500 seats and 35,000 square feet (3,250 sq. meters).

Heritage Hall will feature meeting spaces that can be separated into smaller, soundproofed rooms in addition to providing space for events, catering and bus drop-offs. The hall will be on one level and will connect to the Capitol building by an elevator and lit partially with a sunroof.

For "any committee meeting that's going to attract a significant number of people, this will get us a venue that will be much nicer than anything we have now, particularly in the House," said Gary Randall, the commission's chair and Clerk of the House.

He said the welcome center's construction will take about 18 months.

The State Building Authority plans to review the project, said Ron Leix, a spokesman for Michigan's Department of Treasury.

Lansing's business community backed the project, said Steven Japinga, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce's vice president of public affairs. He said the welcome center will become an educational resource and an opportunity to enhance Capitol security.

"We are thankful the Michigan State Capitol Commission was able to rework the Heritage Hall construction plans to fit the $40 million the Legislature allocated for the project last legislative session," Japinga said via email.

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