Amid fears that the city cannot afford $11 million for a cultural arts center and community theater, the City Council has directed the Planning Commission to reduce the cost.
The long-awaited arts center at 15th and Monroe streets was originally budgeted at $7 million, but the price tag escalated in recent months as architects have tried to accommodate requests by city officials.
Current plans call for a 31,000-square-foot center with a 414-seat theater and banquet rooms for as many as 700 people.
"We need to cut it down to $7.3 million," said Councilman Tony Lam, who joined a 3-1 vote to refer the matter to the Planning Commission. The commission, he said, "will work with the architect and the cultural arts council to get a clear-cut view of what we need to do."
Lam said that since the theater space is a priority, the center's lobby might be reduced.
"We don't want to cut down the [theater] seating," Lam said. "But the lobby area looks very elaborate and costly, so maybe they can cut that down to save money."