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Arts Center Cost Exceeds Projection

October 02, 1985|HERMAN WONG | Times Staff Writer

The cost of constructing the Orange County Performing Arts Center's 3,000-seat multipurpose theater in Costa Mesa will be "substantially" higher than the $57.3 million projected in 1983, center officials reported Tuesday.

Center officials declined to announce the "final cost" estimate for the theater, which is still projected to open in October, 1986. But other sources close to the project say the figure may exceed the previous estimate by $6 million to $8 million or more.

The increase, center officials say, is due to stage house design and other technical changes, plus inflation and rising interest payments. A "full-scale" fiscal review by Thomas Kendrick, the center's new executive director, is scheduled to be presented to the Center board Oct. 15.

"I know of no major arts center that hasn't undergone these same (cost) changes," said Kendrick, the former Kennedy Center director of operations, who took over the Orange County post Sept. 9. "You will find this true in any project of this complexity and magnitude--especially this one (in Orange County), which offers a unique acoustical design."

Kendrick said the cost of a 1,000-seat second theater, to be built after 1986, was still estimated at the $8.2-million figure announced in 1983.

This is the second time the center has revised its construction figures. The original 1980 estimate for both the 3,000-seat theater phase, which includes a 300-seat "black box" facility, and the second theater was $40 million. That total was increased to $65.5 million in May, 1983, due to design changes and inflation.

The current study to update the 1983 estimates, said Kendrick, was ordered by the Center board last June. "We (he and General Manager Judith Morr) were told to give them the firmest figures--as close and tight as possible. They didn't want any unforeseen overruns," he said.

The chief new costs are those affecting the main theater's stage area, including the acoustic shell, said Kendrick. In 1983, he said, figures weren't available for many technical and design features in the original architectural plan.

"We have plugged in the costs for (1983) 'blind design' elements, and we have made other changes in tune with the actual final construction details," said Kendrick, adding that some changes would result in lower operating expenses later.

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