Orlando, Fla., city commissioners voted to allow construction to begin on the delayed $383-million Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, or DPAC, after board members stepped forward to personally guarantee a $16-million letter of credit that will replace tourist tax dollars if projected revenues of $43 million fall short.

Courtesy DPAC
Construction will begin in June on the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, shown in an architect's rendering above.

“For more than 20 years this region has struggled to build a new performing-arts center,” says Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (D). “But unwilling to give up and wanting the best for our community … civic and business leaders, the tourism community and government have rallied together to begin construction on the Dr. Phillips Center next month.”

The Florida city approved plans in 2007 to construct the arts center, which is named after Dr. Philip Phillips, a citrus baron and philanthropist. In 2006, Phillips-established charitable foundations donated $25 million toward the arts center. However, as the economy declined, tourist tax collections dropped and were not available to fund construction. Dyer directed DPAC to phase the project, so it could proceed with available monies. Design architect Barton Myers Associates of Los Angeles, working with local architects HKS and Baker Barrios Architects, placed two of the three theaters, the entrance lobby and banquet room in the first phase.

However, when the selected construction firm Balfour Beatty Construction, Orlando, took bids, the project was still short of funds. DPAC tried to secure money from Orange County, but Mayor Teresa Jacobs (R) objected, citing concerns about its finances. That objection led to the formation of the Orlando Community Construction Corp. (OCCC), which brought in PCL Construction Services, Orlando, to serve as the owner’s representative.

PCL reviewed 84 trade bid packages and more than 380 sub-trade bids, agreed with 92% of Balfour Beatty’s selections and considered alternate bidders for seven packages, netting a $250,000 savings. However, PCL also identified $1.23 million in cost increases due to delays. OCCC and Balfour Beatty settled on a $130.8-million guaranteed maximum price for the first stage, set to break ground in June.

Construction will take about three years. The city projects DPAC will support approximately 3,000 construction jobs and could contribute as much as $315 million to the local economy during the first stage of construction. The city’s Blueprint employment office will work to hire local workers.