Orlando has approved the sale of $69 million in bonds to partially plug a gaping funding hole in its originally priced $1.1-billion downtown building program and kick-start construction of the $250-million first phase of the city’s new performing-arts center.

Performance center will go forward with mix of private funds and public bonds.
Photo: DPAC
Performance center will go forward with mix of private funds and public bonds.

Funding for the second piece of the city’s venues program shrank when the recession cut revenue from the tourist development tax (TDT). The city had originally budgeted $130 million for the project; to date, TDT has generated only $10 million. Roughly $70 million in Community Redevelopment Agency bonds had already been provided for the Dr. P. Phillips Performing Arts Center (DPAC), initially slated to cost $450 million.

Private fund-raising has resulted in about $88 million, according to DPAC officials. Site demolition of the city-owned two-block downtown parcel is slated to start in April. Construction manager Balfour Beatty Construction of Orlando is now targeting a fall groundbreaking.

This first phase would deliver two of the three halls planned for the facility. The $70-million second stage would include the building envelope as well as administration and education spaces.

The third stage would include the third hall, a 1,700-seat facility sponsored by Walt Disney World Co.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told ENR that the latest bonding sale is partly an attempt to sustain DPAC’s fund-raising momentum. “We’ve created this momentum,” Dyer says. “We think by breaking ground it will help with that commitment.”