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Old October 13th, 2007, 07:24 AM   #1
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Carmel, Indiana Concert Hall project

Mayor Jim Brainard has raised enough in private donations to build the facade of Carmel's planned concert hall with limestone instead of stucco.

Brainard has collected more than $2 million in contributions, and city officials have released a fresh architect's rendering of the concert hall, reflecting the decision to build the structure with limestone.
The city has borrowed $80 million for the hall, which under original plans also included a 500-seat theater. City officials have since decided it would be more cost-effective to build the concert hall and theater separately in Carmel's new downtown City Center.
In addition to the $80 million, Brainard has said the city is counting on another $10 million in interest to drive the public investment for the concert hall and theater to $90 million. About $10 million of that money would be spent on the theater, Brainard said, leaving the price tag for the concert hall alone roughly at $80 million.
While $80 million would pay for the construction of the concert hall, Brainard has set a private fundraising goal of $50 million to help pay for upgrades to the facility. If successful, that could push the project's price tag to $130 million.
The decision to wrap the hall's facade with limestone instead of stucco marks the first upgrade to the building funded by private donations.
"It's exciting that the community has stepped up to support this," Brainard said. "It's going to be a wonderful thing to have in Carmel, and it's going to pay dividends for residents and businesses for generations to come."
Using limestone instead of stucco for the hall will cost an extra $1.9 million. The city expects to pay a total of $8.5 million to build the hall with limestone versus the $6.6 million it would cost to use stucco.
Brainard said the city received a $1 million in-kind contribution from Pedcor Cos., the largest private developer behind Carmel's new City Center downtown.
Pedcor has agreed to do the architectural work for the smaller, 500-seat theater. That donation freed up $1 million the city planned to spend to design the theater, which now will be shifted to help build the concert hall.
In addition, Brainard said he has received a pair of $500,000 pledges for the hall, one from an individual who wishes to remain anonymous and a second from a business that plans to announce its donation in the coming weeks.
The city, Brainard said, also has received a handful of smaller contributions, ranging from $10,000 to $25,000.
News of the fundraising will allow Carmel's Redevelopment Commission to solicit bids for the limestone next month. Les Olds, executive director of the commission, said it typically takes a year to receive limestone and by accepting bids the city could secure its place in line.
Brainard said the city still plans to break ground on the concert hall by the end of the year and is still calling for a completion date in the fall of 2010.
Marnin Spigelman, an independent running against Brainard in the November election, criticized the mayor's decision to use limestone for the concert hall. He has advocated for a convention center instead of the world-class concert hall Brainard has touted.
"The mayor's fuzzy math to reconcile limestone for the misguided building of the concert hall is yet another example of fiscal mismanagement," Spigelman said. "What the city needs is a convention center to draw in business and not a legacy monument for the mayor."
Spigelman also questioned Brainard's ability to raise private contributions for the hall.
"The mayor has been attempting to get donations for the embellishment of the concert hall up to the tune of an additional $40 million or $50 million, and he's been working on that for the last year," Spigelman said. "The fact that he's only gotten two anonymous pledges (totaling) $1 million sort of tells the tale to what Carmel citizens think about the concert hall, think about the expenditure and think about its necessity for the city.
"If everybody was rallying around the flag for the concert hall, you'd see multiple millions of dollars in donations and contributions, but that hasn't happened."
Brainard said securing multimillion-dollar contributions is a lengthy process and contributions will continue to pick up, especially during the three-year period the hall is under construction.
"This a new job for me, but I've been amazed at how generous people are with their time, how willing they are to sit down and listen and the tremendous interest they have in the community and making it better," Brainard said. "I think it's always to easier to raise money and to get excited when construction is going on. That's when people can start to see how the end product will look."
Brainard said it would be another eight to 12 months before the city will have to make any more decisions on upgrades for the facility. Most of those decisions will involve what kind of interior finishes are used in the concert hall.
For example, the current funding for the hall would allow for carpet or tile in the hall's lobby, but if Brainard raises enough money that could be upgraded to terrazzo or marble. Similar decisions would have to be made on the hall's interior walls and the quality of its 1,800 seats.
Other decisions -- like whether to add a $6 million concert organ, a glass canopy or a first-level restaurant -- could be made later in the construction process or even after the hall opens, Brainard said.
Henry Winckler, a Democrat running against Brainard, said none of the decisions to make upgrades to the concert hall should be made until Brainard has raised most of the $50 million in private donations. He said Brainard is timing announcements about the concert hall to help his bid for re-election.
"The decision should be delayed until most of the money is in for the extra niceties, including the limestone front the mayor wants to put on the building," Winckler said. "It also should be delayed until after the election, because a new, more creative team with building and development will move into office."
Brainard said the construction timetable for the concert hall required the decision on the building's facade to be made now. The fate of the hall does not rest on his fundraising effort, Brainard said, adding that only extra additions and upgrades would be backed by private donations.
"We can build the building for ($80 million), and our budget allows us to do that," Brainard said. "The key is that we want to make it as nice as possible for the community, which is why we are doing the fundraising."

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Old October 19th, 2007, 03:56 AM   #2
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I love this project. Carmel has created some gorgeous buildings in the past years.(for a suburb.)
Peter- "Geesh, Meg is in there taking a nap under water!".
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