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Arts Center Cost Grows

University Seeks More Financial Aid

June 13, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer

Four years after planning a performing arts center on Albany Avenue, the University of Hartford is asking city and state officials for more money to help pay for it.

The cost of the project at the former Thomas Cadillac site has grown from $25 million to $30 million in four years, and the university has raised about $8 million, officials said.

Some of the increase can be attributed to inflation and rising construction costs, university spokesman David Isgur said.

Also, Isgur said, "As we got more detailed, we got a much better sense of what the overall and projected costs were going to be."

The center will provide instructional, rehearsal and performance space for musicians, dancers and actors in the university's conservatory. It also will enable the school to expand its relationship with the nearby Artists Collective.

The university is asking the Connecticut Development Authority for an additional $1.25 million for the project. The authority has already promised $2 million.

Under the request, Hartford, rather than the university, would make payments on the CDA bonds sold to finance the performing arts center project.

City officials have run the numbers and say the site would generate higher revenue for the city when it is improved. Although the tax-exempt university won't be paying property taxes to the city, the state will pay the city money in lieu of taxes on the university's behalf, as it does for other tax-exempt properties.

The city council will meet today to discuss whether to support the plan.

Mayor Eddie A. Perez is behind a proposal to use up to 60 percent of the annual state payments to the city for the site to pay debt service for the authority's bonds.

"The mayor believes this is a very important project for north Hartford," said Matt Hennessy, the mayor's chief of staff. "A lot of folks in the community have been working on this project for a number of years now, and now's the time to push it forward."

The development authority is scheduled to decide Wednesday whether to give the project the additional money. A spokesman for the authority declined to say what the staff recommendation to the authority's board will be.

Hennessy said he thinks they will be supportive, "because they're aware of our interest in this project and how important it is to Albany Avenue."

"It's certainly the CDA's decision to make," Isgur said. "But we appreciate that they've certainly given us support for the project."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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