Beaverton proceeds with arts center despite rising cost
Beaverton is proceeding with its arts center although its estimated construction costs have increased by $5 million.
A groundbreaking is planned for mid- to late November on the site, which is north of The Round/City Hall. The center, which contains a 550-seat theater, and an adjacent seven-story, 350-car parking garage will take about two years to complete.
It will be named for Patricia Reser, who is the major private donor at $13 million.
The City Council voted Tuesday night for two big steps toward construction.
One was approval for the sale of $21 million in revenue bonds, repaid from city lodging taxes, for the city's share of the arts center.
The other was an agreement with Skanska USA Building, the general contractor based in Portland, for work leading to a guaranteed maximum price for the center and parking garage. The council will take up a contract for actual construction on Nov. 5.
Jill Sherman, a partner at the Portland firm of Gerding Edlen, said rising costs of labor and materials — which have affected construction projects recently — are largely responsible for pushing the budget for the center from $45.9 million in mid-2018 to a current estimate of $50.7 million, an increase of about 10%.
"I was surprised about the amount that it was. I expected it to be worse," said Mayor Denny Doyle, who was briefed in advance. "Somehow we escaped the ultimate surprise."
To make up the difference, advocates will defer repayment of a $1.5 million loan from the city general fund for startup expenses, and also a planned $2.5 million endowment for the center. The rest will come from higher-than-anticipated private fundraising and city lodging taxes.
A money-saving design change will remove a rehearsal room from the ground floor of the planned parking garage. Space within the arts center will be substituted.
The $24 million garage is funded separately by the Beaverton Urban Redevelopment Agency.
The city will own the center. Its governance has yet to be settled, although there is a recommendation for a nonprofit organization to run it under contract.
Lani Faith, executive director of the Beaverton Arts Foundation and leader of the fundraising campaign, said there was no way to know exactly how much construction costs had risen until Skanska USA Building obtained bids from project subcontractors within the past few weeks.
"Though none of us likes the fact that the project cost has risen … the fact that we now are facing an increase of less than 10% is pretty remarkable in these times, especially with a project of this size," Faith said.
Faith said private fundraising still is about $2 million short of the target, but requests totaling $7 million are pending.
Reser, who leads the foundation board, pledged $13 million from her family foundation back in 2016, two years before the official announcement she was the major donor.
"I've always held the notion that the difference in being a good and a great city is measured by its cultural vibrancy — the availability of a place where people of all ages can be inspired by the arts and create a better world," she told the council before its vote.
"I acknowledge that our work is not done. But I am inspired by what is ahead."
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