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Straz Center Raises $27.5 Million and Earns CRA Endorsement for Project Extension



Straz Center Raises $27.5 Million and Earns CRA Endorsement for Project Extension

The Straz Center for the Performing Arts has presented an updated construction schedule for its redevelopment project along the Hillsborough River.

The Tampa City Council members, in their capacity as the Community Redevelopment Agency board, granted approval for a one-year postponement to the project on Thursday. This decision followed a previous two-month extension granted at a September meeting.

The additional time will allow the venue to secure more favorable bridge loan rates and conclude the construction bidding process, according to Straz Center President and CEO Greg Holland. The construction phase is slated to commence in November 2024, with a tentative grand opening planned for January 2027.

“Thank you for doing the work for going back to the drawing board and redesigning instead of simply coming and asking for more money,” Councilwoman Lynn Hurtak said. “That is the ethos the city is looking at right now: What can we do with the money we have?”

In 2021, Tampa’s CRA board pledged $25 million to support the $80 million project. As part of this commitment, the Straz Center was initially tasked with raising a minimum of $25 million by October 1 of this year. It has successfully achieved that objective, as reported by Holland during Thursday’s council meeting. The funding is allocated as follows:

  1. Confirmed donations: $27.5 million
  2. Verbal commitments: $4 million
  3. Tampa CRA: $25 million

Presently, the Straz Center seeks to secure an additional $23.5 million to reach its $80 million goal for construction. Moreover, the organization has raised an additional $7.6 million for its endowment, surpassing the $20 million fundraising target.

The redevelopment project is set to introduce new hospitality and event spaces along the Tampa Riverwalk, alongside various other enhancements. According to Holland, this initiative will not only benefit the broader Tampa community but will also leverage the venue’s prime riverfront location and increase its capacity to meet growing demand.

“This ‘Boundless’ effort will lift Tampa’s cultural reputation, our region’s economy, our children’s educational access and our community’s quality of life,” Holland said.

Councilman Alan Clendenin, who proposed the extension of the project’s timeline, emphasized that the city-owned facility, despite showing signs of aging, is a “crown jewel” deserving of investment.

In contrast, Councilman Luis Viera cast the sole dissenting vote during the Thursday decision. As per the revised timeline, the Straz Center must meet its contractual commitments by December 1, 2024. The final design of the project is expected to be concluded by the upcoming month.

“Our commitment and your commitment to this transformative project, the project design — and now its realignment — [along with] private and public fundraising has never wavered,” Holland said.

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