If things go according to plan, on Jan. 8, the final stage of a project that began as an idea thrown out by then Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins at a City Council retreat in January 2011 could begin.

The City Council is supposed to vote on the contract for construction of the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts next Tuesday, Dec. 19.

The low bid on the contract was made by T.A. Loving for $56 million, which is considerably lower than some councilmembers were expecting.

If the City Council accepts the bid, the schedule calls for construction to begin Jan. 8 and take 25 to 27 months, so it would be complete in the spring of 2020.

It appears the City Council will approve the contract despite the fact that the Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) goals reportedly were not met.

The goals are goals and not quotas. As long as the company makes a “good faith effort” to meet the goals of hiring subcontracting companies that are owned by women or blacks, then it has met the terms of the contract.

One problem that contractors are currently having in meeting the MWBE goals is caused by the increase in construction; many MWBE firms already have all the work they can handle – which is a good thing unless you are desperately trying to hire minority contractors.

It appears that T.A. Loving did make a good faith effort. Councilmember Sharon Hightower has said that she is definitely voting no because the goals were not reached, but Hightower sometimes votes no when the MWBE goals are reached because she says she thinks the goals, which are set by the city, are too low.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that she wasn’t sure what the vote would be, but added, “I believe it will pass.”

Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter, who has consistently voted against all the many motions having to do with The Tanger, said that she hadn’t made her mind up but that there was a good chance she would vote for the construction contract.

Vaughan said that the Community Foundation had raised $40 million and the city would spend a total of $43 million on the project.

In 2011, when the discussion was about demolishing the old War Memorial Auditorium and building a new one, Perkins said he thought $10 million could be raised privately to pay the additional cost of building a performing arts center downtown.

As things stand now, Perkins was off by about $30 million on the amount of money that could be raised privately.

The first downtown location that was chosen for The Tanger was the site of the old YWCA, where LeBauer Park is now. After preliminary designs – which were not well received – were made public, the decision was made that there wasn’t enough land to construct what the city wanted to build.

The result of that decision is LeBauer Park, which has been a great addition to the downtown.

Coliseum Manager Matt Brown was put in charge of construction and held things up when he decided the bid for grading and infrastructure was too high and rebid it. That decision saved the city $1 million on the first phase of construction.

It won’t be a done deal until the City Council votes next Tuesday, but it certainly appears that Jan. 8, the final phase of The Tanger will get underway.