MACON, Ga. — Macon-Bibb County commissioners Tuesday approved the next step in the Macon City Auditorium renovation: testing for asbestos and other harmful substances.
The testing will cost the county about $64,000. It's just a small portion of the $6 million price tag for the first half of the renovation. It started last week, and 13WMAZ got an inside look at the progress.
The stage lights are still on, but the performance is on pause. The Macon City Auditorium is getting ready for its next curtain call. The massive hall is filled with scaffolding supporting a platform in the building's dome.
"This is Macon's grand old lady," said Tom Rogers, who oversees the construction. "Most of the people that are here working on the building grew up in Macon, and have been in the auditorium for shows, recitals, graduations, weddings, you name it."
Rogers' team is in a race against the clock to finish half the renovation by September. That's when the auditorium needs to reopen for shows. All the work starts in the auditorium's famous dome.
"We're going to take out the old, mildewed, old looking interior dome ceiling. We're going to expose the steel structure. And we're going to add insulation on the inside of the roof," Rogers said.
They'll also add bathrooms and concession areas in the basement. The auditorium's general manager, David Aiello, says it's all about preserving the almost century-old building and recruiting top talent to perform.
"People always want to be entertained, and specifically the bigger name, the more people are going to come. And for us, we draw from a 75-mile radius," Aiello explained.
Rogers hopes his team's work keeps drawing in crowds for another century and beyond.
"We've got an awful lot to do. We've been working around the clock. We're going to continue working long hours to make sure it happens," Rogers said.
Phase two of the renovation will start next summer. The auditorium will close again for three months so the team can finish up. Rogers says they just got the plans for phase two last week, so there's no cost for that just yet.