The Seaplane City has now realized its vision, and everyone can see how well it’s doing. Tavares is the city everyone is talking about.” Good thing the Pavilion on the Lake is the last of Tavares’ waterfront improvements.
City Council members last week unanimously approved cost overruns that will nearly double the cost — bringing it to $6.3 million — to build a fancy facility for weddings and conventions set at the end of a 150-foot pier overlooking Lake Dora And “Beautiful” is rather an understatement. The price tag was $2.9 million more than originally budgeted.
It’s never easy to vote for something that was so dramatically mispriced at the start. Council members have to be wondering whether staff hit it right this time. Such an increase from the original cost is difficult to stomach, but it makes more sense when each item is examined critically.
Here’s a sample of what bumped up the price tag:
The biggest item was switching from wood pilings, which had been used in a pavilion that originally sat on the waterfront, to concrete pilings, which will last longer. Cost: $496,356.
Other expensive changes included switching from traditional heating and cooling to a geothermal system. The cost is $355,964 more, but it’s also 45 percent more effcient, and making the switch allowed designers to add a 400-square-foot rentable deck.
Designers also added an electronic glazing system that darkens the windows against the glare of the sun coming off the lake. The extra $359,151 also will help save energy costs.
Throw in glossy wood ceilings for $70,000, brick pavers at $60,000, glass room dividers that don’t block the view for $62,000 and shimmering gas lamps that discourage blind mosquitoes for $42,750, and you’re beginning to understand how the price rose.
Outside Tavares, the vision created and put into action by City Manager John Drury to market the city as “America’s Seaplane City” is considered little short of genius.
“When I said ‘seaplane base’ at the beginning of this, I was laughed at,” said Bob Blaise, the Leesburg architect who designed the pavilion.
Relax, folks. In the end, the Pavilion on the Lake — smart name because that’s what people would call it anyway — will be counted as the right decision.
City officials will hold a grand-opening ceremony at the 8,000-square-foot conference and wedding facility, built at the end of a 150-foot pier, on Oct. 11, followed by a formal black-tie gala from 4:30 to 10 p.m. featuring a cocktail hour, dinner and a concert by the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
Erica and Steven Evans, both longtime Lake County residents, were the first to wed at the Tavares Pavilion on the Lake. The Aug. 30 wedding was absolutely beautiful, said city officials, who hustled to create an evening filled with the “wow factor.”
“Everything was stunning,” said Erica Evans, a Mount Dora High graduate. “Everything from start to finish was just perfect.”
During the inaugural wedding, City Administrator John Drury said the couple booked their after party at a local restaurant. An upcoming wedding in November, he said the bride’s family has booked “all the hotel rooms in the downtown area. Every single one of them.”
In addition, he said guests inquire about local florists, photographers and wedding planners. Drury said officials also plan to add a dock to the pavilion to accommodate guests to arrive and leave by seaplane or antique boat within the next year.
“I think we hit it out of the park,” he said. “In my view, it was worth it.”
Drury said officials and businesses in Tavares, coined “America’s Seaplane City,” have already benefited from the pavilion.
“We’re seeing a lot of the small business owners … getting business from the pavilion, which was one of the main reasons we did it was to help the economy,” he said.
Since the August wedding, Aldrich said, the city has booked 31 events at the pavilion over the next two years, including weddings, business meetings, a prom and a high-school reunion, all of which were scheduled before officials finished construction. “We weren’t expecting that,” Aldrich said. “It’s just kind of word of mouth right now. Still, they booked.”
Councilman Norm Hope told a reporter that the facility is a “first-class” and a “fantastic draw for a high-end client.”
For a change, someone is building something in Lake County that will help grow “The Seaplane City”, and what a beautiful addition.
By: Tesha Daniels