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OCPAC hall grows pricier

The cost of the Costa Mesa center's expansion is now estimated to be at least $237.5 million.

October 04, 2006|Mike Boehm | Times Staff Writer

Design changes down the home stretch, and overtime labor costs incurred during a dash to finish in time for its Sept. 15 opening, have boosted the price of the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall by $25 million to $27 million, leaders of the Orange County Performing Arts Center said Tuesday -- a markup of about 13% above the $200-million price tag long attached to the project.

The increase leaves the Costa Mesa arts center with about $75 million left to raise to fund the now-$225 million concert hall and a partly built $10-million plaza. Factoring in the $2.5-million organ inside the hall, the total estimated cost of the center's expansion now is $237.5 million to $239.5 million, depending on the exact amounts of some pending construction bills.

While admitting that the cost increase makes the money-raising job harder -- $160 million has been collected or pledged so far in a difficult, sometimes sputtering campaign that began in 1999 -- center Chairman Michael Gordon said that "characterizing this as troubled isn't correct. It's going along very well."

Gordon and Terrence Dwyer, the center's president, said that the campaign gathered momentum during the run-up to the opening -- $27 million has been raised in the last six months -- and that visibility, big names and reviews citing the handsomeness and sound clarity of the hall should propel it toward its goal. Dwyer said that if the $75 million can be raised within two years, the center should be able to avoid the consequences that can come from a fundraising deficit: the need to skimp or cut back regular programming to pay off the construction mortgage. OCPAC's mortgage is a $180-million tax-free, variable-rate bond issue that ensured the hall's completion, but that figures to cost about $5.5 million a year in interest payments at current rates of a shade over 3%.

Recent contributions show center supporters dipping into their accounts for repeat gifts, including $10 million from shopping center magnate Henry Segerstrom and his wife, Elizabeth -- on top of the $40 million Segerstrom gave six years ago, and a second $1-million donation from William and Patricia Podlich. Timothy and Jean Weiss gave again, bringing their total donation to $1 million, and William J. Gillespie has given $2.5 million for the concert organ.

mike.boehm@latimes.com

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