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City performing arts center still in play
by Bobby Tedder
August 07, 2014 11:17 AM | 1451 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sandy Springs officials and residents continue to kick around the idea of adding a performing arts venue to proposed environs of the city center development project.

City leaders said staff discussed research into its feasibility, and the results thereof, at a pair of special called Sandy Springs City Council meetings and an open house.

John Jokerst, program manager for Atlanta-based Carter Inc., said during a presentation the aforementioned facilities typically come at a steep price.

“We are in a very unique time in the marketplace. … On a local level, the cranes [for construction] are going back up,” he said. “Performing arts centers are expensive. … But I think we all agree [erecting one here] gives the city a unique brand and identity.

“It represents a tremendous opportunity.”

Based on a commissioned study by Chicago-based Johnson Consulting, city officials have been advised to explore a 750- to 1,000-seat performing arts venue. The city’s governing body has since directed the city center planning team, including architect Rosser International and master developer Carter/Selig, to review the recommendations and provide the city with different scenarios compatible within the larger project.

A signification portion of parking designed for the proposed project would be subterranean.

Jokerst estimated the total cost of the endeavor to be between $169 million and $197 million.

“Nothing’s free … but these are generic numbers, to some extent,” Mayor Rusty Paul said.

According to City Manager John McDonough, viable funding options for the project include issuing bonds and the city’s historically embraced pay-as-you-go model, in which funding is set aside for the next three years to help reduce long-term debt.

“We have to pay for the cost of construction,” McDonough said. “If we take on a [$190-plus million] project, we simply wouldn’t have the funds on hand to pay the bills. … There’s many variables [in play] here … and we are taking a conservative approach.”

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