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Winston-Salem faces costs v. benefit for Benton renovation

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Artist's drawing of proposed renovation to the Benton Convention Center.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem officials are facing a classic economic question as they evaluate whether to make cosmetic changes to an aging Benton Convention Center or conduct a major facelift.

What kind of bang for the buck can they realistically expect to get from upgrades estimated to cost from $3.3 million for short-range fixes to $23.9 million for a long-range overhaul?

Tackling all the recommendations at one time likely would take 30 to 36 months, said consultants from Crossroads Consulting Services LLC of Tampa, Fla., and will require a bond referendum, according to city officials.

Benton opened in 1969 at a cost of $3.05 million. The center has earned a reputation for looking dated even with millions of dollars spent on renovations and technology upgrades.

A study released last week by Crossroads determined that maintaining the infrastructure status quo would lead to larger annual operational losses, currently at $957,000, and a decline in the numbers of events and attendees.

Read full story: The Winston-Salem Journal.