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Arts Center Funding Increased

Agency Expands Commitment

June 16, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer

The Connecticut Development Authority approved $2.5 million in funding for the University of Hartford's proposed performing arts center on Albany Avenue Wednesday, $750,000 less than the university had hoped for.

John Carson, a senior adviser to the university president, was pleased that another $500,000 had come into the project. "Every dollar counts," he said. "We've still got a good partner in the CDA, and we've still got a good partner in the city."

Four years after planning the center at the former Thomas Cadillac site, the university asked city and state officials for more money to help pay for it, saying that its cost had grown from $25 million to just over $30 million. The increases were due to inflation and rising construction costs, university officials have said.

In 2001, the authority approved $2 million in funding for the project. On Wednesday, it decided to raise that amount by $500,000, as staff and commissioners expressed concern that the university still had significant hurdles ahead in both public and private fundraising.

"We want to send the message that we're still in the game and we want to continue here," said Antonio Roberto, the authority's executive director. "On the other hand, there are still some holes that need to be more completely filled."

"It's a pivotal part of the community there," Roberto said, adding that the city and Mayor Eddie A. Perez are committed to the project. Roberto said the authority's decision Wednesday did not mean it was ruling out future funding opportunities for the center.

Under the funding 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 would not be paying property taxes to the city, the state would pay the city money in lieu of taxes on the university's behalf, as it does for other tax-exempt properties.

The city council discussed the matter earlier this week, and referred it to one of its committees for review.

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

The university will continue to raise money for the project, including looking to the state's Department of Economic and Community Development, as well as to the federal government and private donors for support, Carson said.

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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