MEB seeks 33 million in funding for new performance venue in Williamsburg

A group of local businesses and organizations is proposing to build a new performance venue in Williamsburg, Virginia.
The venue would be located at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center and would be a multi-purpose facility that could host a variety of events, including concerts, performing arts, corporate functions, and festivals.
The group is requesting $33 million in funding from the Williamsburg Tourism Development Fund.
The venue would be approximately 53,000 square feet and would have a capacity of 2,500 people.
It would include an indoor and outdoor stage, as well as state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.
The venue would be managed by a team of experienced professionals.
The group believes that the venue would be a major economic driver for the city of Williamsburg and would attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
They also believe that the venue would provide a home for local arts groups and would help to spur increased tourism in the region.

In 2017 The Williamsburg City Council created the Tourism Development Fund (TDF) in 2017 to “increase patronage to restaurants, attractions, hotels, and events in the City of Williamsburg through financial assistance and reinvestment in tourism products, place-making projects, special events, and public-private partnerships.”

MEB a Chesapeake VA general contracted firm is seeking $33 million from the TDF fund to design, construct, and operate an approximately 53,000 SF indoor/outdoor multi-purpose performance venue capable of hosting a wide variety of events including performing arts, music concerts, cultural events, corporate functions, festivals, etc. The project would provide a state-of-the-art facility for local groups to perform and would provide a venue that would attract local, regional, and national acts/events to the Greater Williamsburg Region. This facility would supply a venue to support the demand for outdoor and indoor theater space that meets the region’s needs. The venue would include indoor seating, outdoor seating, dressing rooms, media spaces, back-of-house facilities, food and beverage, pre-function space, outdoor and indoor stages (separate), and other spaces to support events. MEB’s team is comprised of local development, design, construction, and operation professionals that will partner with the City to develop a venue that will improve the quality of life for residents and drive economic impact through increased tourism opportunities.

The TDF is funded through a portion of a 1% sales tax increase set by Virginia Senate Bill 942(2018). These funds are made available for grants based on an application/review process and recommendation by a review committee and final approval by City Council. Projects can be new development, expansion of existing projects, public facilities, and improved experiences. Any project that can be shown to increase patronage to restaurants, attractions, hotels and events can qualify and be considered.

Who is proposing the project : MEB Founded in 1982, MEB is an experienced and respected provider of construction services in the Hampton Roads region, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Their diverse portfolio includes all types of government, industrial, commercial multi-family/hospitality, and heavy civil projects.
MEB is centrally located in Chesapeake, VA with an additional office in Richmond, VA, and performs work throughout the country. In conjunction with MEB Clark Nexsen will serve as the lead designer and has been providing design services for over 100 years, including dozens of comparable venues. The design team includes Guernsey Tingle, a Williamsburg architecture firm and Timmons Group for civil design. Both Guernsey Tingle and Timmons Group have a significant amount of experience in the Williamsburg region. Henderson, Inc., a local construction firm will serve as the site and civil contracting partner and have been headquartered in Williamsburg for over 65 years. MEB’s team includes Virginia Arts Festival and IMGoing, two of the premier promotors/operators in Virginia, who will guide tetheam through design and operations, and have both served in the Hampton Roads region for decades and host Finally, Victus Advisors will provide the team with consulting services including feasibility studies, operating proformas, market demand analysis, and more. MEB design build team is currently leading the development of the Williamsburg Sports and Events Center at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center.

Management would be provided by IMGoing is a full-service, independent entertainment company providing first-class live experiences, as well as being an innovative leader in the production, booking, and marketing of live entertainment venues and events. From festivals and concerts to all types of special events, IMGoing has been creating premier event experiences for three decades.

IMGoing has managed all booking and production for the Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion in Portsmouth, Virginia since 2006. They have also produced a number of events for the city of VA Beach including Live! On Atlantic, American Music Festival: Music Festivals:, Gospel Fest, Panorama Caribbean Music Festival, Latin Festival, Sandstock, Funk Fest., Blues on the Beach, Motor Sports: Monsters on the Beach, Wild Wheels Weekends, Food Festivals:, Craft Beer Festival ,East Coast She Crab Soup Classic, Mediterranean Weekend.

MEB is proposing to include the project at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center at 101 Visitor Center Dr, Williamsburg, VA 23185. This facility would be a complimentary development product to the future indoor sports and events center, as well as other future development projects planning for the Visitor Center campus.

MEB stated that a state-of-the-art indoor/performance venue will provide a major new attraction to the City of Williamsburg, a community known for its music and arts rich culture. This facility will provide a world-class venue that will allow local groups to have the space they need to perform and host events, while providing a venue for commercial promotions. The region lacks the necessary venues to support the strong demand for concerts, performing arts, corporate functions, and entertainment. By increasing the number of events that can be hosted in the City, this development will draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, including many out-of-town patronages who will drive the local economy. These patrons will increase spending at local restaurants, attractions, and hotels. The
venue will be a strong compliment to the proposed indoor regional sports center that is being developed at the Visitor Center, by providing opportunities to host simultaneous events and enhance the sports and events center’s user experience.
The proposed performance venue will provide opportunities for hosting local, regional, and national events. These events will include independent and coordinated events. The venue will allow for collaboration between the City of Williamsburg, venue operators, HTRFA, Williamsburg Sports and Events Center, Colonial Williamsburg, William and Mary, Williamsburg Area Art Commission, Visit Williamsburg, and all the amazing local talent that our community has to offer. These events will include single day, multi-day, and weeklong activities that will draw visitors from all over the state and region. The proposed venue will be capable of hosting imitate events with a few hundred patrons to large events hosting thousands of patrons.

MEB anticipates the project starting design in January 2024 and construction in August 2024. With an expected completion in November 2025.

This opening date would coincide with the completion and opening of the indoor sports center, which would provide an opportunity to host exciting opening ceremonies and events that would draw in thousands of visitors from around the region.

The proposed performance venue would be a significant addition to the city of Williamsburg and would provide a number of benefits to the community. The venue would attract visitors from all over the region and would help to boost the local economy. It would also provide a home for local arts groups and would help to promote the city’s cultural scene.

The project is still in the planning stages, but the group is hopeful that it will be approved by the Williamsburg Tourism Development Fund. If the project is approved, construction is expected to begin in 2024 and the venue is expected to open in 2025.

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