Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has named a long-time city employee to serve as the first director of the Saban Center and oversee its planning and construction.

For the uninitiated, the Saban Center is a planned state-of-the-art children's learning center made possible by Nick and Terry Saban and revenue raised by Maddox's Elevate Tuscaloosa tax program.

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It is expected to eventually house the Children’s Hands-On Museum, the main branch of the Tuscaloosa Public Library and the Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre in one space.

In a Thursday press release, Maddox said the task of overseeing that process will fall to Deputy Director of Urban Development Audrey Buck, who has worked for the city for nearly a decade.

Maddox said in her role as the Saban Center's first-ever director, Buck will lead the effort to transform the iconic Tuscaloosa News building into a hub for educating children in and around the Druid City.

As an expert in architecture who is already familiar with Tuscaloosa and the vision for the Saban Center, Buck is uniquely qualified to fill the role, Maddox said.

“The Saban Center will be a generational project for our community,” Mayor Walt Maddox said. “I truly believe Audrey is the perfect fit to lead this project and ensure its successful launch.”

Terry Saban, who needs no introduction around Tuscaloosa, echoed Maddox's thoughts and endorsed Buck's appointment to make the dream of the Saban Center a reality.

"The Saban Family enthusiastically concurs with the appointment of Audrey Buck as the Director of the Saban Center," Terry Saban said in the press release. "A Tuscaloosa native, she brings a wealth of knowledge with her degree in architecture and experience in urban development. Her leadership skills will be critical to ensure the successful completion of the Saban Center."

Maddox said the appointment is a temporary one, intended to expire after the Center is finished and open to the public. Buck's responsibilities at City Hall will be covered by existing staff during her temporary reassignment, Maddox said, and she will not be replaced as Deputy Director of Urban Development.

According to the Saban Center website, construction on the building may begin as early as Winter 2023.

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