June 13, 2017

DCU Center needs $60M in upgrades over 20 years, report says

Photo Courtesy/Creative Commons/Terageorge
The DCU Center will need about $60 million in upgrades over the next 20 years, according to an assessment.

A facility assessment of the DCU Center in Worcester suggested the arena will need about $60 million worth of upgrades over the next two decades, including $30 million over the next five years.

The arena is in good shape, said Jim Swords, a Boston-based principal of architectural firm Populous, which conducted the assessment. Its electrical, plumbing and fire systems are all in good shape, and a few things, like its automation and cooling systems, are in need of replacement. But it's still a 30-year-old building, said Swords.

"Obviously with a building this old, there's a few things that wear out and need to be replaced, but overall, things are in very good condition," Swords told the Worcester Civic Center Commission last week, according to a meeting video posted online.

Priorities should include improving life safety and code compliance, guest comfort and accommodation, maintaining the building envelope, and upgrading technology, according to the assessment. It's not unusual to have a lot of expenses in the first five years of an improvement plan, said Swords.

Populous based its findings on recommendations from a team of engineers, architects and specialists who spent two days at the DCU Center in February, assessing its major architecture and interior systems, including food service, technical infrastructure, vertical transportation, roof accessibility, and fire protection. In light of global concerns about terrorism, the center may also want to consider upgrading its security system, Swords said.

Cost estimates are preliminary, and don't include the price of design improvements.

"[$60 million] sounds like a lot of money, but over 20 years, it's not unreasonable," said Swords.


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