If you haven’t yet seen the renovations and improvements being made to the old Benton Grade School, which is now the home of Benton Square, I encourage you to drive by 400 East 6th Street between Cedar Street and Walnut Street.
The once deteriorating structure that was home to Benton Grade School, is being transformed into a multi-faceted business that will include a restaurant with outdoor dining, a full service salon and spa, flora shop, small boutiques and event space.
The owners and developers of Benton Square, Dan Klinski and Steven Scholz, who own and operate a similar and very successful business in Scottsdale, Arizona, have also purchased several other buildings and structures adjacent to Benton Square. Their ultimate goal and vision is to create a vibrant new arts and entertainment district in Rolla that will incorporate Benton Square, new entertainment, dining and arts venues, and of course the Orval Reeves Gallery and Cedar Street Center, where the well-known Ozark Actors Theatre (OAT) provides outstanding theatre, entertainment and stage performances throughout the year.
The investment being made at the old Benton Grade School is more than apparent by the scores of construction workers, engineers, and builders who are quickly transforming the old school into what will soon be one of Rolla’s unique destinations. The owners anticipate that the project will be completed sometime in November of this year.
The Rolla City Council, at last Monday’s Council meeting (July 20), unanimously approved the request by the owners to amend the Schoolhouse PUD (Planned Unit Development) at 400 East 6th Street. The purpose of the requested amendment to the PUD will permit certain changes, including building elevations, and the landscape plan.
The other structures nearby that were purchased by the owners of Benton Square are also currently being renovated, and will significantly enhance the area. This unique blend of an upscale restaurant, boutiques, arts, entertainment, and the nearby Cedar Street Center, will be a welcome addition to not only this area of Rolla, but an asset that has already generated considerable investment and jobs for our community. I am very excited about this development, the promise of a vibrant new arts and entertainment district, and a new destination that will attract visitors across the state to our community.
In closing, I’d like to remind all of our tennis enthusiasts in town that the Ber Juan Tennis Complex will be closed beginning this Monday, July 27 for resurfacing. The six courts that will be resurfaced are located in Ber Juan Park at the corner of 14th and Holloway Streets. Ken Kwantes, Director of Parks and Recreation, said it should take about 10 days, weather permitting, for the resurfacing of the tennis courts.
The Rolla City Council approved funding for the resurfacing project at the July 6 City Council Meeting. It will cost $14,995 to resurface the six tennis courts, and the City had initially budgeted $40,000 for the project. The funds were budgeted under the Park Land Reserve account, which currently has $137,647. For additional information, please call the Rolla’s Parks and Recreation Department at (573) 341-2386.
The City, together with the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce, is also hosting the “Movies Under the Stars” and “Music Under the Stars” summer series at the downtown bandshell located at 9th and Oak Streets. The first featured film for Movies Under the Stars is “Twilight,” which will be shown at twilight on Friday, July 31 at 8:45 p.m. Free popcorn will be provided and soda and snow cones will be available for purchase. Be sure to bring a blanket or lawn chair.
Music Under the Stars, also sponsored by Embarq, will feature two great local bands; Beeker Street and Pseudo Blues Band on Friday, Aug. 14 from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Music Under the Stars is also a free event for the whole family. For more information on either of these great events, please contact the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce at 364-3577 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.