By: R.S. Douglas
From: A-J Media
After less than a year of fundraising, the local organization aiming to build a new performing arts center in downtown Lubbock is only about $11 million shy of the amount needed to move forward on the project.
“We will be continuing to work towards our $45 million goal. We have yet to reach that, but we are close,” said Tim Collins, president of the Lubbock Entertainment and Performing Arts Association. “In the meantime, I think the reality is that (the Department of Public Safety) is actually opening their driver’s license office at the new location.”
In total the project will cost an estimated $85 million. Earlier this year, the City Council promised to donate the land DPS headquarters was previously located on if the Lubbock Entertainment and Performing Arts Association could raise $45 million in commitments by Dec. 31, 2017.
“I don’t think the council wanted to make the property ready for them until they had raised their funds,” said Mayor Glen Robertson. “Because it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for us to spend a lot of money until we know that they are going to be able to build the center.”
If all goes as planned, the city-donated land and cleanup of the area is the only tax money that will be spent on the project, Robertson said.
“The building of the performing arts center will all be with private funds,” he said.
Still four years from the final deadline, LEPAA has raised about $34 million, Collins said, and when donations hit the $45 million mark, the next phase will begin.
“Our biggest focus is just the fundraising. When we reach the fundraising goal, we can start to move forward,” Collins said. “That number not only triggers our option with the city but it is also our target to begin design.”
While potential site drawings have been created, the actual engineering and planning portions of the project will begin when the association raises a little more than half of the funds needed.
But despite the association’s progress, the performing arts center is still years from being completed.
The DPS offices began transitioning into a new building in the Lubbock Business Park earlier this week, but will likely occupy the old location for at least another 1½ months, Collins said.
“Up until the time we reach our fundraising goal and can exercise our option with the city to transfer the land, the property returns to the city for their use if they choose to do anything with it,” Collins said.
Once the government agency completely vacates the building and the initial $45 million goal is reached, the city will begin demolition and environmental cleanup.
Primarily focused on obtaining large donations, Collins said he is confident “good news is coming.”
Representatives of the Lubbock Independent School District, also looking to build a performing arts center, said the city is in need of multiple venues for theatrical events. Though the school district is open to allowing the performing arts center to be used by community organizations, it is likely the schools would occupy it most days, according to LISD Superintendant Berhl Robertson.