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Old February 4th, 2005, 08:20 PM   #1
sarasotan
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New Tampa Museum of Art: 11th Hour


Bank may salvage plans for museum

JP Morgan Chase officials say certain steps need to be taken before they issue final approval for a loan.

By LENNIE BENNETT and KEVIN GRAHAM
Published February 4, 2005
museum rendering
[special to the Times]
An architect's rendering of the redesigned Tampa Museum of Art created by architect Rafael Vinoly. The new design incorporates an aluminum canopy over part of Ashley Street. To the right of the drawing, behind the building, will be the park space, where the current museum building is located.

TAMPA - Museum officials left a meeting Thursday hopeful that the $53.9-million Tampa Museum of Art project will move ahead when bank officials signaled their "full support" for the plan.

But JP Morgan Chase issued a letter citing several key steps that must be taken before giving its final approval, making some city officials less optimistic.

Rushing to meet a Thursday deadline, when the guarantee on construction costs expires, may be cutting it close, said Corneila Corbett, chairwoman of the Tampa Museum of Art. She plans to speak with contractors about extenting the deal.

"We're just all working on it diligently and frantically," Corbett said. "I think we're going to be asking for an extension."

"I think that's probably one of the smartest moves they've made," said City Council member Kevin White, who isn't sure the plan will work. "When you're taking it to the eleventh hour, it's rush, rush, rush. If the contractor would give them a little more time, it would give everyone more confidence in the plan."

Still, White said he has his doubts.

"Quite frankly, with the raw cost of materials going up ... if I was a private contractor, I wouldn't extend it," White said. "It may end up sending me into the hole on the project. I really don't see (an extension) happening. And if it does, evidently, the contractor had a mighty strong cushion in there."

JP Morgan Chase's declaration came just a day after Mayor Pam Iorio said she doubted the financing would come together in time for the City Council to consider the project next week, as planned.

"The administration is saying the bank has not approved anything at this time," said City Council member John Dingfelder. "They haven't said no, but they haven't said yes. I don't think anybody in city government right this second is overly optimistic."

Chase officials said Thursday that "the financial transaction to build the new museum has the bank's full support," Corbett said, after meeting with city officials and other museum leaders.

"The bank," said Corbett, "has expressed total confidence in our position," which means it will back a construction loan to replace the aging building on Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa.

Corbett said after the meeting, "We have some things we need to resolve still. But I'm hopeful. We're moving forward and the mayor said she was also hopeful."

Before moving forward, Chase said in a letter Wednesday to the museum, they must still review the construction contract, plans and specifications; review and approve the final finance and construction agreement, as well as the final operating and lease agreement.

Bank approval was one of the conditions the city, which owns the museum, has set before work can begin. If the guarantee on construction costs expires, it would likely mean an even higher price for the project, which has escalated by $10-million since the controversial Rafael Vinoly design was unveiled in 2002.

"We are in discussions with the contractor," Corbett said, "to look at issues involved with an extension" of the price guarantee.

Even with bankers' commitments and an extension from the contractor, the future of the new museum may still be tenuous. Museum supporters have reeled under recent remarks on a talk radio program by Iorio in which she suggested the plan might have to be scrapped in favor of something more modest.

Iorio told the St. Petersburg Times Wednesday that "if this particular plan does not go forward, then we will go forward with a new plan." A Sunday editorial in the Tampa Tribune called for the resignation of museum director Emily Kass and criticized her leadership.

"This has taken so many highs and lows," Corbett said, "it's unbelievable."

Iorio did not return calls from the Times after Thursday's meeting.

Museum supporters have received about $43-million in pledges to supplement the $30-million the city has agreed to pay for the new museum.

Iorio has also questioned the museum's ability to raise enough money to operate the building, estimated at $6.5-million annually. The city has agreed to kick in $2-million each year and trustees recently announced they had commitments of about $9-million from private donors to defray operating costs from its projected opening in 2007 through 2015.
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Old February 4th, 2005, 08:22 PM   #2
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And From Yesterday

Financial doubts may kill Tampa's museum plan; [SOUTH PINELLAS Edition]
JANET ZINK. St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Feb 3, 2005. pg. 1.A
Abstract (Document Summary)

A new art museum is a key component in many of [Pam Iorio]'s goals for her administration, which include making Tampa a "city of the arts," bringing residential development downtown and redeveloping downtown's riverfront.

Iorio said she's committed to bringing a new museum to Tampa, but not necessarily [Rafael Vinoly]'s design, which can't be downsized.

Artist's rendering of the Rafael Vinoly design for Tampa's art museum; Photo: DRAWING, Artist's rendering
Full Text (965 words)
Copyright Times Publishing Co. Feb 3, 2005

Plans to build a world-class art museum to energize downtown Tampa could be unraveling.

With only a week left before the construction price expires, museum officials still don't have a bank loan to cover building costs, and some city leaders fear the proposed museum won't make it financially.

They wonder if Tampa would be better-served by a smaller museum with a bigger budget for exhibits and acquisitions.

Mayor Pam Iorio said Wednesday she had serious doubts that the museum plan would go to the City Council next week as scheduled.

"There are just too many outstanding issues," Iorio said. "It does not look like the financing will come together."

Bank executives told city officials this week that they may not be able to approve a construction loan for the $53.9-million facility before the council's Feb. 10 meeting.

Museum leaders were still holding out hope late Wednesday.

"It's a nail biter," said museum director Emily Kass. "A lot of people are working really hard to try to make it happen."

Kass, herself, has been a target of criticism. The Tampa Tribune wrote an editorial Sunday calling for her ouster, saying "It's increasingly clear that a leadership change is needed at the top."

The existing museum has taken its shots amid recent success of the Monet exhibit at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts.

Tampa museum officials have been working on plans for a new museum for years. They say they have raised nearly $43-million to fund it.

But they now face a deadline to start construction.

If the City Council doesn't approve the plans Feb. 10, the construction price expires and the cost of building the museum would likely go up.

Even with financing, there's no guarantee that council members will bless the project. Iorio has met with several members this week to discuss it.

"The bottom line is we may end up having to go back to square one," said council member Kevin White.

White said he would like to see a design that's more functional than flashy. The proposed building, which includes a $3.3-million urban canopy over Ashley Street, might turn heads but be too expensive to operate, he said.

Only 60 percent of the proposed building is usable space, and it's not energy efficient, he said.

He lacks confidence in the museum's business plan, which projects that the new facility will attract 175,000 visitors a year, nearly double what the current museum draws. If those projections don't hold true, he doesn't want the city, which has pledged to give $2- million a year to cover operations, to have to bail out the museum with taxpayer money.

"Once the project goes forward, the city is not going to let it sink," White said. "We could be putting the city in a virtual black hole, financially."

The museum, with a target opening in 2007, promises to have $3- million in reserves its first year and $1.5-million each following year through 2015.

That doesn't ease the concerns of council member Rose Ferlita.

"You've got to have a lot of money to bring in exhibits and artwork that are going to make people want to go and want to come back," she said.

With estimated operating costs at $6.5-million a year, the promised reserve "doesn't say too much to me," Ferlita said.

A new art museum is a key component in many of Iorio's goals for her administration, which include making Tampa a "city of the arts," bringing residential development downtown and redeveloping downtown's riverfront.

The city has pledged nearly $30-million for museum construction, a promise made under former Mayor Dick Greco.

The city has already spent more than $7-million on architectural fees to the museum's designer, Rafael Vinoly.

"A contract was signed," Iorio said. "When I came on in 2003, Vinoly was already on board and millions had already been paid to him."

Iorio said she's committed to bringing a new museum to Tampa, but not necessarily Vinoly's design, which can't be downsized.

"If this particular plan does not go forward, then we will go forward with a new plan," Iorio said.

Some museum supporters say Iorio has made unfair demands.

"This mayor speaks from both sides of her mouth," said museum trustee Sara Richter, who has been involved with the museum for years.

Told that Iorio had expressed doubts that financing would be in place on time, Richter said, "She spooked the bankers."

Richter, who has been deeply involved in the fundraising effort, says Iorio has "painted us as the culprits, as always dragging our feet. We've always been behind the 8-ball on this."

Richter said if the museum plan falls through, "I wonder about those developers that are coming into town. Are they still going to want to build across the street from the box she wants to build?"

Council member Linda Saul-Sena said the current museum size and design wasn't just "pulled out of thin air." It's intended to meet the needs of the future.

"I see so many proposed residential developments in proximity to the museum. I believe there's going to be a whole new constituency of people who are going to use it," she said.

Board of trustees member James Pappas, who holds the Lykes Chair of Banking and Finance at the University of South Florida, said he spent much of Wednesday in phone conferences with the bankers and the firm handling the bonds for the museum.

"We've done what's needed," he said. "We should have a very good sense in the next 24 to 48 hours of whether this will get done."

Times staff writer Colette Bancroft contributed to this report. Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.
[Illustration]
Caption: Artist's rendering of the Rafael Vinoly design for Tampa's art museum; Photo: DRAWING, Artist's rendering

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.
People: Iorio, Pam, White, Kevin, Vinoly, Rafael, Richter, Sara
Dateline: TAMPA
Section: NATIONAL
Text Word Count 965
Document URL:
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Old February 4th, 2005, 09:03 PM   #3
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Maaaannnnn, they need to just GET ON WITH IT!!!

Either they're going to build it or not. If so, great... If not, then get on with life and use the funding for something else, like the riverwalk and trolley extension.
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Old February 4th, 2005, 09:27 PM   #4
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I have a feeling they will do it - though it will be close. at least Rhonda Storms is not involved, I think. She would spook anyone.

I think Iorio will suffer - she's going to lose big money support on this mess - as well as the trolley and Civitas.
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Old February 4th, 2005, 10:12 PM   #5
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Well, I'm sure everyone involved will look bad if it falls through. After all, all those rich Tampans donated millions to build a building that will draw people from all over the South and show up in magazines, not the hideous and cramped med rev building we will probably get if this isn't built. Oh well, though, you can't expect everything. If Iorio hadn't waffled in the begining then we could have already been u/c with it.
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Old February 4th, 2005, 10:23 PM   #6
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You know, much as she says some things that really annoy me, I think Saul-Sena has the best vision in Tampa gov. Iorio has some ideas but is a bit too cautious. Mind you, I don't want her to be reckless, but she needs to really do some over the horizon plannng and develop more ambition for the city. She is too much the anti-Greco.
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Old February 4th, 2005, 11:23 PM   #7
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Greco's MO was push it through now and figure out how to pay for it later. Iorio is paralysis by analysis. There's got to be a happy medium, right?

Iorio talks about a livable downtown, a "city of the arts," a world-class riverwalk, etc. but what do we really have to show for it? Art Museum: questionable. Riverwalk: in planning. Trolley extension: doubtful. Old courthouse: underwhelming plans. The only significant development downtown in the past couple years has been from the private sector.

If you're going to throw away all the millions spent on this project so far, PLEASE don't build some scaled down wallflower of a museum. One of the main goals was to have the extra space for these traveling exhibits that bring in the masses, right? No one's going to show up to see the Greek urn collection.
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Old February 4th, 2005, 11:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
If you're going to throw away all the millions spent on this project so far, PLEASE don't build some scaled down wallflower of a museum. One of the main goals was to have the extra space for these traveling exhibits that bring in the masses, right? No one's going to show up to see the Greek urn collection.
Dude, email the council and the mayor NOW. This is exactly the point.
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Old February 5th, 2005, 04:17 AM   #9
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Thanks for the suggestion. I did just that; worded slightly more diplomatically of course. Councilmembers White and Saul-Sena and Mayor Iorio now have a piece of my mind.
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Old February 5th, 2005, 02:27 PM   #10
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Like I said . . .

Museum handed a lifeline
The contractor for the new art museum agrees to temporarily freeze prices, giving officials more time to finalize financing.
By VANESSA GEZARI
Published February 5, 2005

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


TAMPA - Facing a deadline to secure financing for a new Tampa Museum of Art, officials won a reprieve Friday when the contractor agreed to freeze the $53.9-million construction price until April 11.

The decision by Beck construction company effectively extends the deadline for museum officials by more than a month. The extra time will allow them to finish paperwork and work out a lending agreement with JPMorgan Chase.

"It's a great day," said Cornelia Corbett, chairwoman of the board of the Tampa Museum of Art. "It just changes everything. I am just so grateful, and so grateful for the work the mayor has done to help us get to this place and have the extension with no price change. That's the biggie."

Beck guaranteed construction costs through Feb. 10. On Thursday, museum officials received a letter from Chase saying the bank still had to review the construction contract, plans and specifications; review and approve the final finance and construction agreement, as well as the final operating and lease agreement.

The city has set aside $30-million for the project.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio has said the city would not authorize work to begin until the rest of the financing was approved by a bank, and time had been running out fast. With the cost of concrete and steel going up worldwide, any construction prices not locked in can rise steeply in the current market.

"This just gives us time to cross our t's and dot our i's and move forward and get all our homework done, so we're excited, and excited to be back on track with the bank," Corbett said.

She said she is confident the problems that delayed bank approval can be resolved by the April deadline.

The museum project has faced criticism this week, with Iorio saying the plan might have to be scaled back, and the Tampa Tribune calling for the resignation of museum director Emily Kass.

The frantic rush to meet the deadline has also rankled some City Council members. On Thursday, City Council member Kevin White told the St. Petersburg Times that everyone would be more comfortable with the project if the deadline were extended.

The total estimated price to replace the current museum, relocate its contents and furnish the new museum is about $72-million. Museum supporters have received about $43-million in pledges to supplement the city's share of the project cost.

A consultant's report in December estimated that running the museum will cost about $6.5-million annually. The city has committed $2-million a year and trustees said recently that they have commitments of about $9-million from private donors to cover operating costs from the museum's projected opening in 2007 through 2015.

[Last modified February 5, 2005, 01:16:43]
http://www.sptimes.com/2005/02/05/Hi..._a_lifel.shtml
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Old February 5th, 2005, 09:37 PM   #11
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^I read that last night with a great sigh of relief.

Now if they can get on with extending the damn trolley before the county bumblef***s figure out a way to pull the existing funding out from under it.
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Old February 5th, 2005, 09:43 PM   #12
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You're not kidding! Traffic wil be unbareable in 10 years.
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Old February 5th, 2005, 11:28 PM   #13
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let's keep our fingers crossed though, cuz its not over till April, possibly.
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Old February 8th, 2005, 05:11 AM   #14
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Tampa Trib criticizing the museum proposal

History Shadows Museum Proposal
By ANDY REID areid@tampatrib.com
Published: Feb 7, 2005

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TAMPA - A downtown attraction fishing for taxpayer help sounds familiar in a city still paying for an aquarium bailout.

Mayor Pam Iorio put the brakes on a $72 million deal for a new Tampa Museum of Art on Thursday to avoid unexpected expenses - such as those that left taxpayers on the hook for The Florida Aquarium.

Like the art museum, the aquarium wasn't supposed to strain city coffers when it opened downtown in 1995.

One year later, though, with attendance lower than expected, the city bought the aquarium and parking lot to help the foundering facility.

Nine years and one new mayor later, the city wants guarantees that art museum backers can cover their share of the costs for the new building planned between Ashley Drive and the Hillsborough River.

If the current deal cannot be saved, Iorio intends to start from scratch and create a scaled-down, more affordable museum to avoid financial pitfalls like those the aquarium faced.

``That is why we have been insistent on a sound business plan and operational guarantees,'' Iorio said. ``We don't want to put the taxpayers at risk.''

Museum backers won a reprieve Friday, when The Beck Group agreed to an extension that preserves the maximum construction price for the new museum until April 11.

The aquarium deal should not leave the city squeamish about making another investment downtown, said Cornelia Corbett, chairwoman of the art museum board.

Even though the aquarium required city help, it encouraged construction of the Channelside retail complex, which helped get the attention of developers now planning lofts and condominiums in the former warehouse district.

``When the city invests in the downtown, the private sector wants to get involved,'' Corbett said. ``One thing leads to the other, to the benefit of both.''

Weighing Downtown Investments

City taxpayers already have invested plenty in downtown building projects.

This year's budgeted costs to pay for past construction debts include $4.8 million for the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, $14 million for the Tampa Convention Center and $7 million for the aquarium.

The payment schedule calls for the city to payuntil 2018 for the performing arts center, 2021 for the convention center and 2027 for the aquarium.

The Tampa City Council was supposed to decide this week whether to proceed with a deal for city land and money for a new art museum.

Iorio pulled the proposal Thursday when museum representatives said they would not have the financing required for the project in time for the council vote, which coincided with Beck's deadline on the construction price.

Museum representatives say they have a commitment from JP Morgan Chase for a loan to cover more than $40 million in private pledges, but need more time to finalize the deal.

Iorio says that the city will not go beyond the $29.8 million for construction and $2 million a year for operations already committed.

Beck agreed Friday to extend its guaranteed price until April 11. Iorio said if the museum finalizes its financing by March 24 she would send a new proposal to the council March 31.

Proceeding with the current museum plan, - which increases exhibit and storage space and includes a 296-seat theater, a rooftop terrace and classrooms - remains the goal, Iorio said.

Scaled-Down Version

But if museum fundraisers cannot get their financing, Iorio has said, the city will have to start work on a new, less expensive version.

``We would like to make an investment in our city's cultural life [but] no one project can consume too much of the city's resources,'' Iorio said.

Iorio inherited the museum project from her predecessor, former Mayor Dick Greco.

She also inherited unexpected expenses from another of Greco's building projects: the Centro Ybor retail complex.

The city learned in January 2004 that developers of the Ybor City project would not be able to pay back a $9 million loan that the city, under Greco, agreed to guarantee to help with construction costs.

Factoring in principal and interest, the Centro Ybor loan leaves city taxpayers with a bill of more than $16 million.

Greco contends the Centro Ybor deal was worth it because it aided Ybor City's economic development efforts. He said the art museum could do the same thing downtown.

Iorio said she could not provide the city's share of the construction costs until museum fundraisers reached their goals, but Greco said that he would have moved forward with construction.

During the delay, the museum's price tag has increased $10 million because of rising costs of construction materials.

Starting the museum construction sooner would have avoided that cost and helped the museum's fundraising efforts, Greco said.

``I felt certain we could raise the few million that we needed,'' Greco said. ``Once you start [construction], it is easier to get money.''

Iorio was not willing to take that risk. The city cannot afford to start a construction project before securing the money to pay for it, she said.

Greco took a risk when he opted to purchase the once financially struggling aquarium he inherited when he started his second stint as mayor.

The nonprofit Florida Aquarium Inc. used bonds to build the $84-million facility, with the city and Tampa Port Authority pledging to cover debt payment shortfalls if revenue didn't meet expenses.

The aquarium expected 1.6 million annual visitors to cover bond payments in its first year. Instead, the facility attracted less than 1 million and lost more than $4 million.

Greco pushed for an all-out purchase of the aquarium because municipal bonds had a lower interest rate than those used in the original deal. Also, the city has provided as much as $1 million a year to help with aquarium operating costs.

The cost to taxpayers was worth having a now-thriving aquarium that helped attract other businesses and development to the Channel District, said Christine Burdick, president of the Tampa Downtown Partnership business group.

Developers now plan 5,000 lofts and condominiums downtown, many of them near the aquarium, Channelside and nearby St. Pete Times Forum.

Museum's `Synergistic' Effect

A new art museum would also have a ``synergistic'' effect on Tampa's downtown, Burdick predicted.

``Having those institutions there, they do help support and stir economic development,'' Burdick said. ``They give a developer a greater sense of commitment that the area will be supported.''

City officials say they remain committed to building an art museum, but not without financial guarantees to limit the public cost.

Securing the construction loan comes first.

Museum backers must also be able to open with a $3 million cash reserve in addition to what they have budgeted for operating expenses.

The deal also calls for the museum to secure financial commitments for an operating reserve of $1.5 million a year for five years.

The lessons of the aquarium support the city's cautious approach, Council Chairwoman Gwen Miller said.

``We don't want to rush into it and have the burden fall on the taxpayers,'' Miller said.

Councilman Shawn Harrison said it was time for the city to ``switch gears'' and come up with a new museum plan.

He suggested a redesign and joint fundraising effort to link the new art museum to a children's museum planned beside the nearby William F. Poe parking garage.

If the current plan for the museum fails to materialize, Iorio said, the city could opt for a smaller version - designed in conjunction with a new riverwalk and waterside park - that could be expanded.

Whether the city proceeds with the current plan for the art museum or starts from scratch, the city's $29.8 million for construction isn't going anywhere, Finance Director Bonnie Wise said.

The money came from bonding a portion of the city's share of the Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax revenue.

``We recognize we need a museum,'' Wise said. ``We are just going through the process saying, `Do we need this museum?' ''

Reporter Andy Reid can be reached at (813) 259-8409.
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Old February 9th, 2005, 07:21 PM   #15
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Arts Community Sees Museum Project As Picture-Perfect Plan for Downtown
By AMANDA HENRY ahenry@tampatrib.com
Published: Feb 9, 2005

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TAMPA - The ongoing saga surrounding the new Tampa Museum of Art building has had more ups and downs than a soap opera, but that's not the only reason arts advocates are watching the situation with bated breath.

``I think it's terribly important, not only to the art community but to all of downtown,'' said Melinda Chavez, executive director of the Tampa Bay Business Committee for the Arts. ``The museum is a cornerstone for our cultural community in the Tampa Bay area.''

Construction of the Rafael Vinoly-designed museum building has been delayed several times, first when Mayor Pam Iorio determined that the city, which is contributing $29.8 million toward the $72 million project, will not break ground until all necessary financing is in place. While the museum worked to secure additional funding, the cost of construction material rose by more than $10 million.

Last week, museum officials received an extension that gives them until March 24 to finalize their end of the deal or face the prospect of starting over with a less expensive plan.

Despite these bumps in the road, and some controversy over its design, those who work in the arts think the new building will be a boon to Tampa's cultural scene, which is why they'd like to see it built soon.

``I think everybody wants to see this project happen, and they want to see it move forward,'' said Art Keeble, executive director of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. ``We've spent too much money, and we've come too far. I'd really hate for them to have to start over.''

Chavez fears that scrapping the current plan so late in the game could jeopardize the project. Both she and Keeble acknowledge the criticism that has been leveled at the Vinoly design, but the pressing issue in their minds is economic, not aesthetic. If the museum can find the money, they say, the entire city will benefit from having a marquee attraction downtown.

``Your cultural institutions act as an anchor and attract people to downtown. It's like a three-legged stool: You have to have all the elements,'' Chavez said. ``You need to have cultural institutions; you need to have residential development; and with that will come your entertainment options, restaurants and nightclubs.''

Architect and artist John Langley, one of the founders of the annual Gala Corina exhibition, thinks the look of the building will help turn downtown Tampa into a destination for tourists and locals.

``It's Tampa's first real strong signature piece of architecture,'' he said. ``Other major metropolitan areas have signature museums, and this kind of funding crisis is really nothing new.''

When or if the building gets off the ground, programming will be key, observers agree.

``I'm a huge supporter of the arts. I want a building to go up,'' said Carrie Mackin, director of the edgy Covivant Gallery. ``However, I also see the need for a stronger collection and programming for exhibitions to really put Tampa on the map.''

The massive fundraising effort required for the new building might be partly to blame for a run of lackluster programming, said Andy Maass, who was director of the Tampa Museum of Art from 1984-95 and now runs the Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg.

``The administration of the museum doesn't spin its wheels,'' he said. ``Forty-three million dollars is an awful lot of money to raise. They haven't been asleep, but the resources of energy and time have maybe been put to other things.''

Reservations notwithstanding, Mackin doesn't favor starting over.

``We just spent $7 million to go back to the drawing board? That's a complete waste of money,'' she said. ``We're just building momentum.''

Reporter Amanda Henry can be reached at (813) 259-7569.
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Old February 11th, 2005, 11:18 PM   #16
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Museum Of Art Draws Close To Financial Goal
By AMANDA HENRY ahenry@tampatrib.com
Published: Feb 11, 2005

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TAMPA - New figures released Thursday show exactly how much money the Tampa Museum of Art has raised toward its proposed new building (a lot) as well as how much it will need to bring in even after construction starts (a lot more).

With $30 million in pledges, $13.2 million in interim or bridge financing and a $500,000 grant from the state, the museum is within $2.7 million of the $46.5 million needed before the city will allow ground to be broken. Museum officials have until March 24 to meet Mayor Pam Iorio's demand that all financing be in place before the start of construction.

Museum officials are confident they will be able to raise that amount in the next few weeks.

``Many millions of dollars are still in the asking stage,'' said Jeff Tucker, who serves on an executive committee of the museum's board.

At a museum board meeting Wednesday, Bonnie Wise, director of the city's revenue and finance department, cautioned museum staff and trustees that even after they get that $2.7 million, their work will be far from over.

Because many of the pledges will be paid out over a period averaging between seven and eight years (only $2.2 million has been received to date), the museum is planning to take out $37.8 million in bank loans to fund construction.

Museum officials will need to raise an additional $20 million to repay that loan - and under the terms of their current agreement, they will have less than two years to do so.

``If the $20 million is not raised in that time, that would be considered an event of default,'' Wise said.

The exact consequences of defaulting on the loan have not been specified - the museum has yet to receive a commitment letter from the bank, which would lay out those details - but might include halting construction, or the bank taking possession of the museum.

``My job is to be skeptical,'' Wise said, acknowledging that these are worst-case scenarios. ``I am the one that's supposed to ask the questions.''

In broad strokes, this is how the project adds up:

* More than $76 million in construction and associated costs - previously reported at $72 million - of which the city will pay $29.8 million, are expected.

* Construction will take up the bulk of the city's contribution - $21 million - with the rest going to architectural fees - $8.8 million, of which $6.7 million has already been paid to architect Rafael Vinoly.

* The museum has a longer grocery list, with the more than $46 million going to construction, furniture, fixtures, moving expenses, new personnel, and interest and fees associated with the bank loan.

* The museum also needs to demonstrate to the city that it has a plan in place to meet operating expenses. Annual expenses have been estimated at approximately $6 million, of which the city will provide $2 million. The museum has raised $9 million for a contingency fund to cover potential shortfalls in operating costs, but the city wants it to have an additional $3 million cash reserve in hand before the new building opens, a date now estimated as late 2007.

``They have done an amazing job,'' Wise says of the museum's fundraising efforts to date. ``We just want them to plan now in the event that there are operating shortfalls in the future. We don't want them to go back to the taxpayers to ask for more operating money.''

Construction of the Vinoly- designed museum building has been postponed repeatedly - first because the mayor put the groundbreaking on hold until the museum could complete its fundraising, and later when construction costs rose by more than $10 million in the interim.

Tucker expressed confidence in the museum's budget projections, and said that the plan always has been to continue fundraising well past the groundbreaking, and even to exceed the mayor's demands in order to build a larger endowment.

``We're not going to be opening the doors for two years,'' he said. ``In a big project like this, you continue to raise money for the endowment and other things that keep you strong.''

Reporter Amanda Henry can be reached at (813) 259-7569.
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Old February 11th, 2005, 11:42 PM   #17
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Put the URL's please:

http://www.tampatrib.com/FloridaMetro/MGBVM4DT15E.html
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Old February 14th, 2005, 01:28 AM   #18
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Tampa museum director faces a city's doubts
http://sptimes.com/2005/02/13/Hillsb...director.shtml
Some say Emily Kass lacks the inspirational persona and financial knowledge that are needed for a $54-million art museum project.

By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer
Published February 13, 2005

TAMPA - It was supposed to be one of the biggest days of Emily Kass' life.

Kass had cleared her calendar for the Tampa City Council's Feb. 10 meeting, where she said she hoped the council would launch construction of a $54-million art museum, designed by world-renowned architect Rafael Vinoly to be downtown's signature building.

Instead, Kass, 52, sat in her office, steeling her face against a city's doubts.

"It's a high-anxiety time," she said. "There's a lot at stake. No one wants to make any mistakes."

Least of all, Emily Kass.

Each time a hurdle has been cleared in this project, another has emerged, often the doing of a fiscally prudent mayor. No groundbreaking without money in hand, Mayor Pam Iorio decreed. Give me a business plan. Get your bank financing.

The delays have caused some community members to question whether Kass has what it takes to shape the museum's metamorphosis.

Many people who know Kass use words like "sweet" to describe her. Many say they consider Kass knowledgeable about art. But in private many say she may be facing a task too big for her shoulders.

It boils down to charisma and credentials.

Former museum director Andy Maass, who says Kass is a friend, said she lacks the public persona necessary to generate keen interest in the museum, which could bolster both attendance and financial support.

"Personal presence and involvement in the community is important," Maass said. "I'm not sure Emily has that."

Others in the arts community say leading a high-profile museum requires business credentials.

"The job of museum director has evolved over the last 20 or 30 years," said Jason Hall, director of government and media relations for the American Association of Museums in Washington, D.C.

Traditionally, museum directors rose from the ranks of art historians and curators, he said. But increasingly, museum boards seek directors with track records for creating financial stability and solid business plans.

Art museums still need directors who know art, he said. "But it's no longer an official requirement. The focus of boards when they're making these decisions has been more frequently on finding people with financial expertise. It's clearly become a more important factor," Hall said.

He points to the Field Museum in Chicago, one of the largest natural history museums in the country, run by John McCarter, who has an MBA. J. Carter Brown, former director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., also has an MBA.

The art world is trying to teach its museum directors business skills.

The Association of Art Museum Directors began offering courses on financial management and strategic planning at the urging of its members, said the association's executive director, Mimi Gaudieri.

The Tampa Museum board has recognized its need for a person with those skills.

Several months ago, it hired a financial consultant. And after the board missed a deadline for securing bank financing for the project, it hired someone to negotiate with JPMorgan Chase.

Someone with an MBA.

Peter Lewis, who resigned from JPMorgan in December, will serve as a consultant for the museum.

"Emily has been trying to keep an awful lot of balls in the air," Lewis said. "Her main job is to run the museum."

While working for JPMorgan, Lewis introduced the museum project to his bank's investment team.

"It's a fairly complex deal," he said. "There are lots of moving parts and lots of people involved. I can hit the ground running."

Under the current operating agreement, the city, which pays most of Kass' $122,000 salary, has the right to hire and fire the museum director. The museum board members wanted the director of the new facility to be accountable only to them. Iorio, conscious of the city's expected $2-million-a-year contribution to operating costs, resisted that idea. Under a compromise agreement, Kass would work strictly for the board but Iorio could fire her if the museum didn't meet financial obligations.

Kass, hired in 1996 after a nationwide search, acknowledged the new building project is a huge task.

"It's been more challenging, more complex than I ever imagined," she said Thursday.

Her challenges now include a newspaper calling for Kass to step aside.

In a Jan. 30 editorial, the Tampa Tribune criticized her for failing to document financial support, basing a business plan on overly optimistic revenue projections and focusing fundraising efforts on Tampa's elite while passing up "regular folks."

The editorial also criticized the caliber of exhibits in the museum.

When asked about Kass' leadership, Iorio said she doesn't comment on city employees.

Kass said she has been shocked by the public criticism.

"I didn't really recognize who I was reading about," she said.

* * *

Kass said she clearly remembers the moment she decided to pursue a career in the arts.

She was a teenager when she and a few friends went to the Art Institute of Chicago to see an exhibit called "Dada, Surrealism and Its Legacy."

Looking at the art, she wondered: What makes these artists tick? What does the art mean? Why does this move me?

"This art was so amazing and strange and thought-provoking," she said. "I went back a couple times to see it."

It made her hunger for more, she said.

After earning a master's degree in art history at the University of Minnesota, she got a job directing educational programs at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Then came an interim directorship of the University of New Mexico Art Museum.

In 1984, she landed a job as director of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Indiana, just after the museum moved into a new, 44,000-square-foot building. She inherited a $400,000 budget and $800,000 endowment. By the end of her 11-year tenure, the museum had a $2-million budget, a $3.5-million endowment and a reputation as one of Indiana's premier museums.

She wanted to duplicate that experience in Tampa, she said.

From the beginning, people told her Tampa needed a new museum.

"It was one thing that the trustees and everyone that I met on the interview process was very forthcoming about," she said.

That was nearly nine years ago.

Under her leadership, she noted, museum membership has increased from 1,400 to 2,200. The endowment has increased from $400,000 to $2-million.

And the capital campaign for the new museum has raised pledges of $43-million toward the $76.3-million needed to build and open it.

She answers her critics like this:

Lack of exhibit space limits her options. Huge attendance figures aren't the only barometer of an exhibit's success. Any program can lead to gifts of art or turn new people into regular museum goers.

Standard fundraising practice is to start with big donors. More donations will come with the excitement of a groundbreaking.

Kass also has her defenders.

Roy Slade of Clearwater, a former director of the Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, credits Kass with the success of museum fundraising efforts.

"I am awed that they raised $43-million from the private sector in Tampa, which is hardly the cultural capital of the world, with all due respect," he said. "It's an absolutely bloody miracle."

Board member Marshall Rousseau, a former director of the Dali Museum, helped hire Kass. He said he stands by that decision.

"She's a top professional museum person," he said. "She's respected among her colleagues."

Former Mayor Dick Greco, who hatched the plan for the new museum, said Kass shouldn't be made the scapegoat for stumbles along the way.

"I'm sure some people think if she was a real pusher and out there beating people over the head for money that would have helped. But she's not that kind of a person," Greco said.

"She's a gentle woman, quiet, and many feel she's not the type of person to raise money because that's not her demeanor."

Greco said he sees no point in questioning Kass' leadership now.

"It's not right to throw that into the equation when you're trying to get $3-million or $4-million from people," he said.

For now, he said, the focus should be on getting the project going.

Kass, meanwhile, said she's not taking the criticism personally.

She wants to focus on the matter at hand.

"I have a job ahead," she said. "Let's get this building open."

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or 813 226-3401.
[Last modified February 13, 2005, 01:16:08]
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Old February 14th, 2005, 01:39 AM   #19
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Here are some pics of the proposal


From Ashley Dr.

"Cafe" Terrace

Riverside Elevation

Lobby

Riverside Elevation

Rooftop Sculpture Terrace

Interior Gallery
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Old February 24th, 2005, 03:15 PM   #20
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Developers ready to donate to new Tampa art museum
Donald Trump has pledged money. Other builders say they would too - if asked.
By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer
Published February 24, 2005

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


TAMPA - The parade of residential developers marching into downtown Tampa, led by Donald Trump himself, might seem a likely source of deep pockets for Tampa Museum of Art fundraisers.

Museum leaders have yet to reach in, though desperate to raise money for a $75-million building project.

Trump announced last week he was giving $100,000 to the museum. But no one from the museum had even asked him for help.

He and his partners gave, they say, because the success of their project goes hand in hand with the success of the budding downtown cultural arts district.

Other developers say they'd also be happy to give.

"I've never been approached," said Ken Morin, one of the developers of Pinnacle Place, a 340-unit condominium complex in the Channel District.

The same goes for Ken Stoltenberg, developer of the 392-unit Grand Central at Kennedy Boulevard and Channelside Drive.

"The museum adds to the vibrancy of the community," Stoltenberg said.

Like the Trump developers, backers of the 380-unit Skypoint condos across from the museum on Ashley Street went to the museum about making a contribution.

The Skypoint developers want to donate to the museum as part of their project's $200,000 public art requirement.

City officials say that's not an option, although they are looking at ways to adjust the requirement. The ordinance requires developers in the central business district to spend 0.75 percent of their project's cost on public art, up to $200,000. Developers can incorporate art into their building or write a check to the city for public art projects elsewhere.

City Council member Linda Saul-Sena, who serves on the city's public art committee, said she likes the idea of funneling some money to institutions. But, she noted, the public art ordinance was designed to inject artwork into the urban landscape.

"I believe we really want both - support for local arts institutions and we also want the investment in public art to enhance the quality of our streetscapes and public spaces," Saul-Sena said.

She lamented that the art ordinance would likely not be changed until fall, meaning "missed opportunities" amid all the development occurring in Tampa.

"If all these developments contributed to art, that would be a very important infusion of funds," she said.

Novare's John Aiken said his company is still likely to make a contribution to the museum beyond its public art requirement.

"We're committed to doing that," Aiken said. "Every great city needs a great art museum."

The Trump gift and conversations with Novare came at a time when museum capital campaign volunteers were scrambling to raise $2-million to solidify a construction loan for the new museum.

Museum supporters already have raised more than $44-million and say they need only $700,000 more to begin construction.

But once building begins, they'll need another $30-million to pay back the construction loan and increase the museum's endowment.

More developers haven't been asked because the museum's fundraising team has been following the advice of consultants who set up the capital campaign two years ago, said Jeff Tucker, a member of the Art Museum's executive committee.

The consultants recommended focusing on gifts of $500,000 or more from families, individuals and foundations.

[Last modified February 24, 2005, 00:53:06]
http://www.sptimes.com/2005/02/24/Hi...ady_to_d.shtml
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