Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Arts center construction stalled

Center canít reach deadline to get $800K housing waiver

Express Staff Writer

This rendering of the planned new Sun Valley Center for the Arts headquarters was created in 2007. The organization plans to erect the building on a Ketchum parcel at the corner of Second Avenue and Fourth Street.

The schedule is going to be longer than anticipated for the Sun Valley Center for the Arts to build its planned 22,500-square-foot headquarters across the street from the Ketchum Post Office.

In November 2009, the Ketchum-based organization obtained a waiver from the city to avoid building an otherwise required 2,500 square feet of community housing, which would have cost about $800,000. The agreement included a provision that The Center apply for a building permit by the end of this month.

With the deadline just five days away, Center Executive Director Bill Ryberg said that won't happen. He said donations total a little more than $6 million, about $200,000 more than reported when The Center requested the waiver. Ryberg said $12 million is needed to break ground on the estimated $17 million project. He said The Center won't commit to a building permit until the $12 million is in hand, even though the city allows construction to begin anytime within 18 months of the issuance of a building permit, meaning the project could get under way as late as July 2012.

He said too many "external factors" are at play to take the gamble that an additional $6 million would show up in 18 months. Fundraising started in 2005, and he said the pace of donations—slowed by the recession—doesn't suggest that that scenario is likely.

"I think we can all agree it's quite an exceptional time we're going through," he said.

Still, he called The Center's raising $6 million a "substantial" accomplishment.

Even though The Center won't meet the deadline for the end of the month, it isn't automatically on the hook for all 2,500 square feet of community housing. Part 2 of the city's waiver allows The Center to provide only half the required community housing if it applies for a building permit by Jan. 31, 2012. After that, it's back to the normal obligations.

Ryberg said no discussions have taken place to consider downsizing the project to bring down the cost.

"Everything's going forward as planned," he said, adding that "reasonable expectations" are that The Center's fundraising will meet the 2012 deadline.

However, he said he's not assuming anything.

Trevon Milliard:

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