The design and construction of the Performing Arts Complex is now being funded through donations, bonds and the Higher Education Assistance, due to a partial denial of funding from the Texas Legislature.
Groundbreaking of the building is set to take place in the late summer of 2011 after the demolition of Falls Hall and the south wing of Sterry Hall have been complete.
“When that is gone we will be able to have a wrecking ball come in and tear down Falls Hall,” said Richard Cheatham, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication. “The tentative groundbreaking we have set is subject to approval by the Board of Approvals the first Saturday of June 2011.”
The estimate for the building was set at $83 million two years ago. However with the denial of additional funds, university officials said they had to trim building plans and costs.
“Not only are we going with the two venues rather than three, but the construction costs have come down due to the economical downturn. It is now projected at $50 million,” said William Nance, vice president of Finance and Support Services.
Nance said the new projected cost of the P.A.C. includes a music recital hall, the Patti Strickel Harrison Theater, a parking garage, street improvements and a chilled water plant to service the south side of campus.
Money accumulated within the Higher Education Assistance Fund for the past 10 years will fund the cost of grounds and street improvements, and the south chill plant. According to the University Policy and Procedure Statements, the fund has restricted use, one of which is construction.
Tuition-revenue bonds will be used for the chill water plant, parking garage and road improvements.
“The 20-year (bonds) have to be paid for each entity,” said Nance. “In other words, parking will pay the annual payment for 20 years on the parking garage bonds, and the utility budget will have to make a payment for 20 years on the utility bonds.”
Donations and gifts will support the musical recital hall and the Patti Strickel Harrison Theater.
“It was Patti Harrison’s gift of $8 million that got it off the ground,” Cheatham said. “The funding is complete for the basic package of the two halls. Patti has been a long time friend of mine and she loves the theater, and when she wanted to phase out her business, she wanted it to go to that.”
The project must receive approval from the Board of Regents before it can move forward. The project is still currently in the architectural design stage.
Nance said university officials and the architect would present the required design development documents to the Board of Regents. The Board could see the plans between November 2010 and February 2011 depending on how soon the design development documents are completed.
“Once the Board of Regents approve the design development documents it doesn’t take too long for the architecture to develop the construction documents and for us to get the final pricing from the contractor and get going,” Nance said.