FORT SMITH — Construction of the 50,000-square-foot U.S. Marshals Museum is scheduled to begin June 21, the president and CEO of the museum said Tuesday.

Patrick Weeks told the museum’s board of directors that the museum foundation has raised enough in cash and pledges, $31.5 million, to begin construction on the U.S. Marshals Service’s national museum on the banks of the Arkansas River.

The board passed two resolutions at its quarterly meeting Tuesday. One was to authorize the start of construction. The other was to begin design development for the exhibits.

Museum officials will meet this week with construction manager CDI Contractors Inc. of Little Rock to get the company’s guaranteed maximum price on building the museum.

“You should see by the time the first of June comes around a bunch of ants over on the hill,” Weeks said.

Activity will begin on site in late April or early May toward preparation of the foundation, and contractors will begin to mobilize for the construction work. Weeks said work will continue until opening day, Sept. 24, 2019, which marks the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The schematic design for the exhibits has been completed, but the design development must be completed before production can begin in July.

Weeks said the exhibit production will be the second most expensive part of the project, about $10 million, after construction of the building.

Exhibit designer Thinkwell Group of Los Angeles will provide detailed design drawings and descriptions of all project elements “so everyone involved knows just what to do, how to do it and what it will cost.”

Weeks said the $31.5 million will cover such things as the cost of building the museum, finishing design work, architectural fees and running museum offices.

That leaves $19.4 million yet to raise, Weeks told board members, noting that figure was down from $33 million needed 18 months ago.

The museum foundation is not easing up on raising the remaining money, foundation President Jim Dunn said.

In addition to continued fundraising work, he said he expects the museum to draw investors through the government’s new market tax credits program that is gaining popularity.

Article Written By: Dave Hughes with Arkansas Online