Jacobs wants $25M in tourist tax money for arts center

Jacobs wants $25M in tourist tax money for arts center

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs says she will ask county commissioners to fork over another $25 million in tourist taxes to help finish the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Last week, the arts center announced a $10 million gift from Dr. Phillips Charities and that they needed $65 million more to make the project happen.

The hope is to begin construction on phase two of the building before phase one is finished next year. Mayor Jacobs says they can have the county's tourist tax money if there is no delay.

She also wants the arts center to cut costs.

"There may be some scaling back of some components of that, but what I've asked them to do is build a project that is fully functional that meets the goal and intent that we set out to do without compromising anything that's integral to the project," Jacobs said.

Phase one cost $201 million and will have two theaters. The project that needs more money is the third and final theater, a 170-seat acoustic hall that will house local artists such as the ballet and philharmonic.

Jacobs says she thinks the arts center would have never been able to get the money together in time.

"I think it is highly unlikely that if we didn't go forward with this project at this stage, that we'll ever complete it," she said.

Phase two is scheduled to cost $181 million and have seats and aisles on a movable track with rollers so the theater easily can be converted for different uses.

Jacobs says that may no longer be possible.

"You may see some parts of the project maybe not exactly the way they had envisioned it. Some of the movable parts are very expensive," she said.

It would have cost the arts center as much as $15 million to halt construction and then start again between phases. Jacobs says she will search with the arts center team on a way to cut $20 million in expenses.

"If we can take half off the cost and half off the philanthropy, I think we can get there," she said.

That would mean the arts center would have to raise $20 million in a little more than a year. County commissioners will have to approve the additional money.

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