Reporter: David Tate
Roanoke, VA - There's lots of construction downtown on Center in the Square in Roanoke. It's all part of a yearlong renovation that promises to bring a whole new attraction when it's all said and done, and right now the project is on time and on budget.
On the outside, the only thing that is different with the Center in the Square building is the fencing that keeps passers by out. On the inside, however, everything you knew about this building is completely gone except the well recognized stairwell.
"We're about nine months from finishing and that's amazing when you look at the construction point we're at now," said Center in the Square President Jim Sears.
Sears was all too happy to show off what the gutted building looks like now as well as talk about what is coming in the near future.
"We should have 6 or 700,000 people the first year. We should start returning to the attendance that we had when Center first opened 28 years ago," said Sears.
Floor after floor will house new exhibits and museums, but it's the new additions that are causing a stir, including a handful of special aquariums that will be unlike any other in the region.
"Our largest aquarium is unique in that it is live coral and it will be the largest live coral reef aquarium in the mid-Atlantic states," said Julie Goodman, vice president of development.
Take it to the fifth floor and the change becomes even more apparent. Crews are working on the butterfly house that will be just under the restaurant and retail space. That's going to be incorporated into the roof, which itself will be green.
"We're real excited about what we're doing with this renovation and what we're doing for the kids, the school kids and the families that live in the region," said Sears.
The project is on time and on budget even after spending more than $100,00 extra making the building less susceptible to earthquakes, something that came about after last year's quake.
Right now the project is set to wrap up in October.