What’s the status of St. Clair County’s renovation plans for Belle-Clair Fairgrounds?

The Belle-Clair Speedway racetrack, pictured here in 2022, will be rebuilt by fall 2025 according to St. Clair County’s renovation plans.

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St. Clair County officials have been working on plans to renovate the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds & Expo Center since voting to buy the 22.5-acre property in late 2022.

The most-anticipated upgrade is to the Belle-Clair Speedway racetrack.

County Board Chairman Mark Kern has said the county wants to completely rebuild — and possibly expand — the racetrack facility so that racing and other events could take place there. Officials hope to eventually bring an annual St. Clair County Fair back to the fairgrounds as well.

On Thursday morning, county buildings director Jim Brede shared an update on their progress with the board that manages St. Clair County-owned property.

“I’m hoping in the next few weeks we’ll have a more definitive plan that we can speak to,” Brede told the Public Building Commission members. “We’re still working on some things to figure out what we can afford.”

In March, the Public Building Commission hired Holland Construction in Swansea to be its construction manager at the fairgrounds. Part of their job includes planning costs, Brede said Thursday.

The county is working within time constraints.

It allocated $14 million in federal COVID-related relief funds from the American Rescue Plan toward the fairgrounds renovations. That money has to be spent by the end of 2026.

The Public Building Commission made a big purchase on Thursday. It approved spending $1.8 million for a new metal roof for the expo center. Joiner Sheet Metal and Roofing in Highland got the $1,850,757 contract.

The board previously approved spending $816,201 toward a new HVAC system for the expo center. It revised the cost of the HVAC system on Thursday to $908,828, an increase of $92,627, because an additional piece of equipment is needed.