Gainesville City Commissioners to hear update on Thelma Boltin Center

Press release from the City of Gainesville

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – City of Gainesville staff will deliver a presentation at the General Policy Committee meeting to update city commissioners on the costs to repair or replace the Thelma A. Boltin Center, a facility purchased by the City in 1946 that has remained closed since 2020.

Staff will present four options to restore the functionality of the center: partial restoration/partial new construction (hybrid); all new construction; a full restoration; and the minimum restoration required to reopen the center.

When: 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 27

Where: City Hall Auditorium, 200 E. University Ave.

Built in the Northeast Residential Historic District in 1943, the facility originally known as the Gainesville Servicemen’s Center was an entertainment venue for U.S. service members stationed at nearby military bases. The City later renamed it in honor of the late Thelma Boltin, the center’s first director.

Recent timeline:

  • 2000 – Thelma A. Boltin Center is last renovated.
  • Aug. 2019 – Gainesville City Commission approves a comprehensive renovation of the center.
  • March 2020 – Center closes due to the pandemic.
  • Dec. 2020 – City staff discovers a portion of the roof over the center’s auditorium appears collapsed, and hires a structural engineering firm to assess the damage and secure the roof.
  • Nov. 2021 – Firm finds structural damage to the center, and recommends either demolition and replacement of the auditorium, or demolition of the entire building.
  • April 2022 – Gainesville City Commission directs staff to work with Wannemacher Jensen Architects, Inc. (WJA) and the City’s Historic Preservation Board (HPB) on a plan for the property.
  • Spring-Summer 2022 – City staff gathers input from stakeholders, and provides updates at monthly HPB meetings on May 3, July 5, and August 8.
  • August 2022 – City staff meets with REG Architects to discuss a feasibility study for the complete restoration of the building.
  • August 2022 – City’s Code Enforcement division declares the center a “Dangerous Building”; utilities disconnected from the building for safety reasons.
  • September 6, 2022 – WJA and City staff deliver a presentation to the HPB with options for reconstruction of a new facility.
  • October 18, 2022 – City staff provides an update to the HPB.
  • November 1, 2022 – REG Architects, Inc. delivers a presentation on a restoration option to the HPB.
  • November 8, 2022 – City staff applies for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) for demolition of the center. 
  • December 6, 2022 – HPB approves COA for demolition of the center’s east wing, and restoration of its historic auditorium.
  • Spring, 2023 – City staff works with a consultant on detailed cost estimates for four options to restore the functionality of the center.

Gainesville City Commission meetings are broadcast on Cox Cable Channel 12, livestreamed on the City’s website and Facebook page, and archived online. The commission meetings also are streamed on GNV TV through the Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices.

  • What the ….. !!! ??? I thought we were going to try to cut the budget, not further expand it !!

  • I trust those professionals who are working diligently on the best scenario for the building.

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