The Knock Knock Children’s Museum will finally break ground next week after more than a decade of raising money and several false starts.
BREC and the nonprofit Knock Knock board of directors have secured a contractor to build the museum, which was designed to sit on a sloped hill near City-Brooks Community Park on Dalrymple Drive. An official groundbreaking ceremony will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday for the building, which is designed to have three peaks and walls of windows.
The agency had not yet disclosed the contractor. BREC spokeswoman Cheryl Michelet said the contractor will be introduced at the groundbreaking ceremony.
BREC leaders and others have dreamed for years about the Knock Knock Children’s Museum, envisioned to host between 18 and 20 hands-on learning exhibits, ranging from a “bubble playground” to an art garden and a story tree.
“There’s so much excitement and donors are waiting to see something happen, and we need to get it going,” Michelet said.
Organizers hoped to break ground in summer 2014, but the date was again pushed back to this year.
While waiting, more money has continued to roll in for the museum’s interior learning zones.
The building’s construction cost is $6 million, a sum that led to problems during the recent public bidding process. The initial bidder that BREC wanted to hire to build the museum pulled out of the running, and the remaining bids were all above the budget, BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight said at the time.
Michelet said the construction budget remains at $6 million and that negotiations centered on how to build the museum within the allotted budget.
As a whole, Knock Knock organizers have raised more than $9 million for the museum. The museum’s organizers could save some money on city permitting fees for construction costs.
The Metro Council will vote next week on whether to allow the Children’s Museum to waive more than $10,000 in fees to build the museum. The request to forgo paying the fees is because Knock Knock Children’s Museum is a nonprofit.
BREC and Knock Knock leaders said they are excited that the groundbreaking is finally happening and emphasized the benefits the museum will bring to Baton Rouge. Both New Orleans and Lafayette have children’s museums.
“Some of the details that they are putting into the educational part — it’s just going to be a real huge deal for Baton Rouge,” McKnight said when the museum was expected to break ground in 2014. “This is going to be an incredible tourist facility for the community.”
The board that oversees BREC is expected to vote on approving a contract with the builder at its meeting later this month. If all goes as planned, the museum could open in 2016.