Arts in Orlando
Rendering of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando [Image courtesy of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts]
High-profile health and high-tech projects at Lake Nona's Medical City in east Orlando have dominated headlines recently, but a few miles to the west in downtown Orlando the first phase of the $383-million Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is rapidly taking shape as well.
Backers say the arts center will boost the community for decades by making the Orlando area more attractive to executives, Fortune 500 companies, individuals and families looking for quality-of-life assets.
The first phase of the complex is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014, and the city estimates that about 3,000 jobs will have been created or supported through the initial economic impact of $316 million.
A second and final phase — a convertible theater that would use hydraulics to change the shape and accommodate symphony, opera and other uses — has been delayed until the center can get more funding. But Jim Pugh, the developer tapped by Mayor Buddy Dyer to shore up county and regional support for the project, says he expects the center's board to announce a starting date by late June.
A number of developments have brightened prospects in the past year, including a steady increase in tourist development "bed tax" revenue, a settlement agreement the county reached with an online travel company that generated an unexpected windfall of about $8 million and overall improvement in the economy and stock market that helps with private fundraising.
Pugh says the first phase of construction is on schedule with no cost overruns, and the personal pledge that he and philanthropist Chuck Steinmetz made to guarantee $16 million in funding almost certainly will not have to be tapped. "We're right on budget," he says, and "we have $13 million in contingency money that's untouched."
» Dr. Phillips Charities donated $25 million, earning naming rights. Walt Disney World contributed $12.5 million; the Orlando Magic, $10 million; and Jim and Alexis Pugh pledged $8 million.
» Private philanthropy raised more than $94 million, with more than $80 million pledged before the design was unveiled in 2008.
» Orlando and Orange County are obligated to each fund about a third of the costs, with the remainder coming from private donors.