DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Plans to revitalize the Dothan City Center will start with the community’s beloved Opera House.

On Tuesday, the Dothan City Commission met and approved design contracts for two projects in downtown Dothan. Those two projects included renovations to the historic Dothan Opera house and the building of a new outdoor events plaza that will connect Foster Street and Porter Park.

The commission approved a $9 Million dollar budget for the opera house project, but the expected costs could reach $15 million.

The opera house renovations will include an upgraded HVAC system, audio-visual, lighting, and other back-of-house improvements. The largest addition to the opera house will be an expanded lobby and event gathering center on the south side of the building.

The additions made to the Dothan Opera House will reportedly not affect the historical characteristics in any way.

“We want to preserve and enhance the historical aspects of the opera house,” said Randy Morris, Dothan Assistant City Manager.

The events plaza will be located directly North of the Opera House, where the Dothan Utilities Customer Service center is currently. The designs for the outdoor plaza will include water features, outdoor dining, an outdoor performance stage, and access to private properties. The Scouts Trail Alley will also see improvements.

Morris believes the projects should start in around two weeks. There will be a 10 to 12-month design period after which the construction phase will begin. Construction is reportedly slated to last 18 months, during which time the Opera House will be closed to the public. The projects are not expected to interfere with the daily movement of traffic.

Morris hopes this will be the first of many projects to begin in downtown Dothan.