Good thing the Pavilion on the Lake is the last piece of Tavares' waterfront project — the natives are getting twitchy.
City Council members last week unanimously approved cost overruns that will nearly double the cost — bringing it to $6.3 million — to build a fancy facility for weddings and conventions set at the end of a 150-foot pier overlooking Lake Dora.
And "fancy" is rather an understatement. The price tag was $2.9 million more than originally budgeted.
Councilman Norm Hope told a reporter that the facility will be "first-class" and a "fantastic draw for a high-end client."
For a change, someone is building something in Lake County that isn't pared down, uglied up and utterly hopeless. Nobody will be mistaking the Pavilion on the Lake for public housing in Russia. This little girl's pink tulle skirt and satin ribbons will be plumped down on the lakefront, where she'll reign for years to come.
It's never easy to vote for something that was so dramatically mispriced at the start. Council members have to be wondering whether staff hit it right this time. Such an increase from the the original cost is difficult to stomach, but it makes more sense when each item is examined critically.
Here's a sample of what bumped up the price tag:
The biggest item was switching from wood pilings, which had been used in a pavilion that originally sat on the waterfront, to concrete pilings, which will last longer. Cost: $496,356.
Other expensive changes included switching from traditional heating and cooling to a geothermal system. The cost is $355,964 more, but it's also 45 percent more efficient, and making the switch allowed designers to add a 400-square-foot rentable deck.
Designers also added an electronic glazing system that darkens the windows against the glare of the sun coming off the lake. The extra $359,151 also will help save energy costs.
Throw in glossy wood ceilings for $70,000, brick pavers at $60,000, glass room dividers that don't block the view for $62,000 and shimmering gas lamps that discourage blind mosquitoes for $42,750, and you're beginning to understand how the price rose.
Outside Tavares, the vision created and put into action by City Manager John Drury to market the city as "America's Seaplane City" is considered little short of genius.
"When I said 'seaplane base' at the beginning of this, I was laughed at," said Bob Blaise, the Leesburg architect who designed the pavilion.
"Everybody told me there were no seaplanes around here. Now, the city realized its vision, and everyone can see how well it's doing. Tavares is the city everyone is talking about."
Inside the city, folks are a little more skeptical. Clearly, Tavares is a different place than it was just five short years ago. The change has been accomplished in a thoughtful, measured way that hasn't been an unbearable burden to taxpayers.
After all, the private investment in the Tavares vision in terms of hotels, restaurants, tourist traffic, seaplane manufacturers and fuel sales far exceeds the public investment.
Still, it hasn't been free, and residents are beginning to grumble.
Relax, folks. In the end, the Pavilion on the Lake — smart name because that's what people would call it anyway — will be counted as the right decision.
It's a guaranteed draw for upscale weddings and business meetings. The picturesque setting will let it far exceed the success of a similar facility in Lake Mary, which is booked a year in advance.
Prediction: The pavilion not only will pay for itself and its upkeep but will contribute to the general fund while helping feed customers to a variety of local businesses, ranging from florists and spas to hair dressers and golf courses.
Lritchie@tribune.com. Her blog is online at http://www.orlandosentinel.com/laurenonlake. Lauren invites you to join her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurenonlake.