Desoto County News

Landers Center expansion talks continue

Photo: Project architect Doug Thornton and Mat Lipscomb, representing DeSoto Family Theatre interests, discuss the Landers Center expansion project Monday during the Board of Supervisors meeting in Hernando. (Bob Bakken/

Monday’s discussion at the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors meeting about the Landers Center expansion reached three items of consensus. One was about the DeSoto Family Theatre, second was the county’s bond issue commitment, and third was where to find an additional $10 million.  

What was originally priced at about $120 million to add convention center and event space, relocate the DeSoto Family Theatre in the complex, and a full-service hotel and restaurant, along with additional parking, has been pared down to about $73 million. But after all the funding commitments have been totaled, that still leaves the project about $10 million short.  

No decisions were made in the review of the current plans with project architect Doug Thornton, who offered what he said was his eighth version of project plans that would offer a convention center expansion made to attract major events. 

But supervisors said additional money coming from the county won’t be more than the $38.5 million bond issue that has already been approved for it.  The question is, how can the shortfall be made up?

One part of the discussion Monday centered on the location of the DeSoto Family Theatre, originally set for relocation on the complex. However, the consensus from the board Monday was that money could be saved by not moving the theatre, but renovating the present site.  

“Why go to the expense of demolishing an existing theatre and building another one if it can work (here),” Supervisor Mark Gardner said. “That’s an $18 million swing there, between demolishing and building.”

Thornton added, “If the theatre stays, I can get this into a $73 million budget.”

Answers to the funding questions need to come soon because project costs will continue to increase until the plans and money are finalized and construction can actually start.  

“We need some answers sooner than later,” Gardner said.  “Costs are going up.” 

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