With the passage of the mid-year mark, this is a good time to take stock of construction projects happening in Magnolia. More than $30 million worth of work is in progress on school campuses and government facilities, in commercial and retail establishments, and in housing.

Workers are clearing out the interiors of the former Magnolia High School gymnasium and band hall to prepare for the buildings’ demolition.

Taking their place will be the $5,652,000 ninth-grade academy, and a $2,467,000 auxiliary gym. They are expected to be completed in 2020.

Also planned for construction is an $8.7 million performing arts center, which will be built between Panther Arena and the softball field. The center will have an auditorium with more than 900 seats and an orchestra pit, and a “black box” theater.

Work will begin later on a $2 million support space addition for Central Elementary School.

Interior demolition work is also under way at the former West Side Kindergarten, which was purchased by the government of Columbia County for office space.

Coker Building Company of Texarkana was the low bidder at $908,166 for the job to renovate the space into offices now housed at the Columbia County Annex on the Magnolia square.

One classroom building has been demolished at the site, and pine trees on the Boundary Street side have been cut down.

The new Dollar General store on East Main Street is expected to open in the next few days. Fixtures and merchandise are being moved into the building now.

The City of Magnolia issued Summit Properties Realty of Hot Springs a $400,000 building permit for the Dollar General building. Dollar General will close its present location at East North and Dudney when the new store opens.

Earth-moving began last week for the new Arkansas Hall residential facility at Southern Arkansas University.

SAU hopes to have the 132-bed Arkansas Hall completed by July 2018. SAU trustees approved a bond issue of $7.9 million for construction of the hall. Arkansas Hall mirrors the new Columbia and Magnolia halls in size and appearance.

Also nearing completion on the south side of the campus is the new President’s Home. The two-story house, in addition to serving as the president’s official residence, is expected to host special guests and events.

Kevin Barker has begun gutting the interior of the former Warnock Furniture showroom on the east side of the square.

Frances Alexander donated the 6,000-square-foot building to the City of Magnolia, which immediately sold it to Barker for $10,000. Barker faces a year-end deadline to make substantial roof and building façade improvements but it’s anticipated that he will do much more than that. He told city officials that he’s received a $170,000 estimate for the improvements he plans to make, which may include Magnolia’s first microbrewery.

The city put Barker’s $10,000 toward the “pocket park” under construction where Cooper Studio and half of the former Buffaloe’s Department Store building were recently demolished on the west side of the square.

The park will include public restrooms, storage space and a small stage for outdoor events.

In the other half of the former Buffaloe’s building, Southern Arkansas University is engaged in a renovation project. The building will eventually house a retail shop for SAU apparel and related items, and classroom and meeting space.

Another big construction project nearing completion is the $500,000 addition for Mini Storage of Magnolia. The building is under construction at Bethel Road and the U.S. 79 bypass.

The City of Magnolia has issued four building permits for new houses so far this year. They have a total estimated construction value of $1.2 million.

Through the first eight months of 2017, the city had issued only two construction permits for houses.

The list above is not exhaustive. It doesn’t include smaller renovation projects, or the U.S. 79 widening project. It also reflects only actual work – not projects on which no work has begun or which are rumored.

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