10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, September 23, 2010

By ALICIA ROBINSON
The Press-Enterprise

Workers this week began efforts to turn a row of former antique stores next to the Fox Performing Arts Center into a parking garage, small theater and retail space.

On Monday, Bayley Construction, the contractor that oversaw the $32 million Fox renovation, started tearing out interior walls and salvaging anything worth keeping from the historic Hess building, which was designed by 1920’s architect Henry Jekel. The building fronts Market Street.

Within four to six weeks, a shoring system will be placed behind the building’s front façade, so the rest of it can be demolished, city capital improvements manager Carl Carey said. The façade will be preserved and turned into a sort of arcade that sets off a public plaza and walkway.

Along Market Street between Sixth Street and the Fox, city capital improvements manager Carl Carey says, “This whole block, everything goes except the front arcade and the (Press Bindery) building.”

Along Market Street between Sixth Street and the Fox, Carey said, “This whole block, everything goes except the front arcade and the (Press Bindery) building.”

The $14.4 million project, dubbed the Fox Entertainment Plaza, is a multipurpose facility with 400 parking spots, about 10,000 square feet of exhibit space for the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, a restaurant and retail shops. There will also be a “black box” theater, which is a performance space that has no fixed seating and can be reconfigured to suit different events.

A separate lobby with an elevator for better disabled people access to the Fox theater is also part of the work and will be fast-tracked, Carey said. That should be ready in early 2011.

Officials haven’t yet decided how to use the 1925 bindery building, Councilman Mike Gardner said, but options include offices or storage space, which is in limited supply at the Fox.
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The roof of a vacant building located next to the Fox Performing Arts Center is dismantled.

Construction on the garage and theater building is expected to begin next spring, with completion set for May 2012.

Another construction project is also due to start downtown, and it may cause parking headaches. In October, a fence will go up around city parking lots at Fifth and Market streets, where a 125-room Hyatt Place hotel will be built.

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