A 50 percent increase in the city’s hotel/motel tax approved this year will  help the Alice Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau achieve its goal of a new convention center in Alice.

Convention and Visitors Bureau President Yvette Johnson said her organization is proceeding with its plans for the convention center, and have a preliminary blueprint in place for the building, which is modeled after the Bauer Community Center in Port Lavaca.

Johnson said the building will not be as elaborate as other area convention centers, such as the American Bank Center or the Richard Borchard Regional Fairgrounds, but it will be able to accommodate areawide events and meetings.

It will also accommodate wedding receptions, quinceañeras and other personal celebrations.

Johnson found the Bauer Community Center, at more than 14,000 square feet, to be just the right size for a community like Alice.

“That one just seemed more feasible for our area because of the size and structure. It’s not too large, and it’s not too small for the purposes that we’re wanting,” Johnson said. “Our main thing is to be able to have an area large enough to house the different functions that are taking place across the city, like the Hot Rod show, possibly a Bikefest, and the various activities of the Boys and Girls Club. We’re also hoping to accommodate weddings, quinceañeras and celebrations of that sort, since so many local residents are heading out to Corpus Christi for those functions because the places in town are booked two years in advance in most cases.”

Johnson said the building could also serve as an area for local business to host their own events, such as safety meetings or conventions, instead of looking for out-of-town venues.

There is no set location yet, although Johnson did say there were one or two areas the bureau is considering at this time, but so far, nothing has been set in stone.

The organization is currently working to put the floor plans together, and Johnson said, once a site has been secured, they would be able to proceed to the bid stage with contractors.

The funding from the building will come from money collected by the Hotel/Motel tax.

The increase approved this year by the city council will add anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 to the chamber’s budget, set to a line item specifically created for the convention center’s construction, according to city officials.