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Final funding push for arts site

Provo poised to kick off effort to raise $400,000

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Work proceeds on the Provo arts center at 451 W. Center last week.

Work proceeds on the Provo arts center at 451 W. Center last week.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

PROVO — Fund-raising for Provo's Center for the Arts is about to enter its final and perhaps most critical phase.

The city is preparing to kick off a community campaign to raise $400,000. A donor has pledged to match those contributions. Together, the funds would raise what is expected to be the final $782,000 needed to complete the performing arts center.

Details of the campaign are under wraps, but city spokeswoman Raylene Ireland said it would begin in January. The center is scheduled to be done in mid-April and to be ready for the first performance by June, said Kathryn Allen, executive director of the Provo Arts Council.

The total price tag for the center is expected to rise from $8.1 million to nearly $8.5 million next week, if the Provo City Council approves the new costs and agrees to pay for them.

Mayor Lewis Billings last week asked the council for an additional $371,377. The council voted 6-0 at a study meeting to move the request to next week's council agenda. One member, Cynthia Dayton, was absent.

The bulk of the money would pay for enhancements to the center, but it also includes $50,000 the city has agreed to pay after it was late turning over the property to Hogan & Associates, the construction company renovating the former city library at 425. W. Center.

The enhancements include an orchestra pit cover, stage curtains, a projector screen and a sound-and-lighting technology pit. They also include upgrades for the ceramic wall and floor tile in the public restrooms, better carpeting and acoustic-spray insulation to enhance sound quality in the performance hall.

An upgrade to seating fabric in the hall and a switch to stainless steel for handrails, posts and glass supports will extend the life of the building and reduce future costs, city finance director John Borget told the City Council.

City Council chairman George Stewart called the upgrades "absolutely essential."

The penalty payment is a result of negotiations. The contract between Provo and Hogan required the city to turn over the project to Hogan by the end of March for the start of renovation and construction.

The property wasn't fully available to Hogan until June, first because of delays in the city's acquisition of the neighboring Travelers Inn, and then because asbestos was discovered when workers prepared to demolish the inn to make room for the center.

The asbestos cleanup added $73,000 to the cost of the project, Provo facilities manager Dick Blackham said.

The city still hasn't settled with Travelers Inn owner Bob Patel, who sold the property to the city last spring without determining a purchase price. Deputy City Attorney David Dixon said the city has offered mediation or arbitration. If negotiations fail, a judge or jury could set the price.

The city offered $875,000. Patel was seeking $1.25 million.

Dixon said the city has paid Patel an undisclosed sum. Borget said the city has set aside $911,000, with the cost split between the performing arts center project and the Provo Redevelopment Agency, which will decide what to do with the motel property not used for the arts center.

The City Council also will vote next week whether to lend $1 million from the capital resource fund to the project. The money would be paid back by USX when it makes the first $1 million in land sales at the new Mountain Vista Business Park. Lots are ready for sale, but Borget said the timing of the arts center project requires the money now.

The interest-only loan would be repaid within three years, with the interest based on the one-year treasury market rate.

The loan would be the second for the city's new capital resource fund, which allows city departments with surpluses to loan money to other city departments and earn interest.

Donors have given pledged more than $4.25 million, including the USX land sales donation. Other funding sources include a federal grant and a tax-increment bond that did not raise taxes for Provo residents.

E-mail: twalch@desnews.com