OGDEN -- As DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts students work to increase their knowledge, construction crews are applying finishing touches to a $5 million expansion project at the downtown charter school.
Renovations to a 38,000-square-foot, three-story building at the southwest corner of 20th Street and Grant Avenue in the AmeriCan complex should be completed next month to keep pace with growing student enrollment, said Jessie Kidd, executive director of DaVinci Academy.
The building connects to a 46,000-square-foot structure at the complex that already serves as DaVinci's main classroom facility.
The school has issued $6.5 million in bonds, most of which will be used in connection with the expansion project.
About $1.5 million has been allocated to purchase the existing main classroom facility from the Ogden Community Foundation, while $1.8 mil- lion has been used to buy the expansion building from Jon Peddie, a developer from Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Renovations to the expansion building are being funded with $3.1 million in bond money, Kidd said.
The building's first floor will house DaVinci's administrative offices, along with theater and music classrooms.
Plans call for a gymnasium and 280-seat auditorium to eventually be built on the first floor, Kidd said.
The building's second floor will have six classrooms for seventh- and eighth-graders and a state-of-the-art computer lab.
The third floor will remain unfinished for now, but will eventually house a library, teacher's lounge and eight classrooms, Kidd said.
DaVinci plans to embark on a capital campaign to raise about $1.3 million to fund the classrooms as well as construct the gymnasium and auditorium, she said.
Care has been taken by R&O Construction, the general contractor on the project, to leave wooden beams exposed and large windows in place to maintain the historic integrity of the building, said Ian Hueton, a member of DaVinci's board of trustees.
"Culturally, it gives a connection to time and place. You get the perspective of history, and the new amenities give access to a technology-based future."
The building has also been seismically retrofitted with structural steel beams to help protect it from earthquakes, he said.
The expansion is needed because of DaVinci's increased student population, Kidd said. DaVinci is chartered for a maximum of 500 students and currently has an enrollment of 450 in grades 7-12.
Last year, the Utah State Board of Education granted DaVinci permission to enroll seventh- and eighth-graders, which added about 150 students, Hueton said.
Established in 2003, the school, which is named after mathematician and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, integrates science, arts and the humanities to foster academic discovery and learning, Kidd said.
The school is tuition-free and has a $3.4 million annual operating budget funded primarily by the state and federal governments.
DaVinci's location near The Junction entertainment complex and the proposed Ogden River Project enables it to provide synergy to the city's economic rebirth, Kidd said.
"Much like DaVinci, we believe in renaissance (in downtown Ogden)."