By: A-J Editorial Board
The April 9, 2013, announcement of plans for a state-of-the-art performing arts center in Lubbock began a memorable 12 months for the Lubbock Entertainment/Performing Arts Association.
Two weeks before the anniversary of the announcement, the fundraising level of the project was at $47.6 million, LEPAA officials announced Wednesday.
That total was comfortably past both the halfway point of the $85 million construction budget and a $45 million milestone necessary to establish a location for the performing arts center.
LEPAA board chairman Tim Collins said last year the City Council and LEPAA reached an agreement on donating the land at Mac Davis Lane and Avenue L formerly occupied by the Lubbock Department of Public Safety offices.
The donation of the land from the city was contingent on LEPAA raising $45 million in commitments by Dec. 31, 2017.
Project consultant Rob Allison said the $45 million fundraising mark also triggers a contract with Garfield Public Private, a development services firm that will take the project through the design phase.
“And once the design is completed and approved by LEPAA, the next phase would be the construction drawings and the bidding process,” Allison said.
Collins said the estimated time for the development process is 18 months to get a design and prepare for bidding.
Commitments from the CH Foundation and the Helen Jones Foundation gave LEPAA the advantage of beginning the fundraising at the $20 million mark.
Even with such a strong start, passing $45 million in less than a year is impressive. Remember, the city gave LEPAA until the end of 2017 to reach that mark.
“I think it speaks to the interest in the community in doing a project like this. With everyone we talk to, it is very well-received and supported,” Allison said.
The $45 million milestone was reached without LEPAA doing a community fundraising campaign, Allison said. He added one is in the planning stages.
The immediate tasks ahead are doing a survey of the site and validating the pledges and contributions, he said.
The private fundraising of the project removes opposition that could arise if the product were built with tax dollars. For those who are concerned the city will foot the bill for operating the facility,
Collins noted LEPAA plans to raise $30 million in operating costs in addition to the $85 million for construction.
Allison noted the city government’s only involvement in the project was the deal involving the donation of the land.
A downtown performing arts center will be a catalyst of redevelopment in downtown Lubbock and will attract more concerts, plays and other entertainment events to the city.
There’s still a long way to go before Lubbock residents will be attending events at the center, but what has been accomplished thus far should help convince any doubters the LEPAA project is for real.
■ Our position: LEPAA started the fundraising process for its planned performing arts center with $20 million in commitments and built impressively on that. The pledges obtained so far have passed the halfway point in raising construction costs, have qualified for a city agreement to transfer the land for the center and will begin the predevelopment and design development phase.
■ Why you should care: A performing arts center will be a key component of downtown revitalization in Lubbock. It will also bring in out-of town events and provide local groups such as Ballet Lubbock a nice venue to perform.
■ For more information: Log on to our website, www.lubbockonline.com, and enter the words “LEPAA” and “performing arts center” in the search box.