AUSTIN-The first part of the redevelopment of Austin’s Auditorium Shores area is ready go to and opens the way for development of a major new arts venue for the city.

This weekend, the city opens the 130,000-sf Palmer Events Center, which is to host events not big enough for the Austin Convention Center and handle community group bookings. A 70,000-sf exhibition area can be divided for two simultaneous events. The building is along Riverside Drive overlooking Town Lake and downtown Austin.

The building replaces Palmer Auditorium, the dome-topped building next door where events from concerts to business exhibitions to citywide garage sales have been held for more than four decades. In November 1963, it was to have been the site of a dinner honoring President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated the day before the dinner.

That building is to be transformed into the Long Center for the Performing Arts, a venue for Austin’s performing arts from opera to ballet and will feature concert and rehearsal halls. The new Palmer Events Center was designed by the Austin-based Barnes-Taniguchi-Centerbrook architectural firm. It was built by MW Builders Inc., based in Leawood, KS.