June 16, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
The Connecticut Development Authority approved $2.5 million
in funding for the University of Hartford's proposed performing
arts center on Albany Avenue Wednesday, $750,000 less than
the university had hoped for.
John Carson, a senior adviser
to the university president, was pleased that another $500,000
had come into the project. "Every
dollar counts," he said. "We've still got a good partner
in the CDA, and we've still got a good partner in the city."
Four years after planning the center at the former Thomas Cadillac
site, the university asked city and state officials for more
money to help pay for it, saying that its cost had grown from
$25 million to just over $30 million. The increases were due
to inflation and rising construction costs, university officials
In 2001, the authority approved $2 million in funding for the
project. On Wednesday, it decided to raise that amount by $500,000,
as staff and commissioners expressed concern that the university
still had significant hurdles ahead in both public and private
"We want to send the message that we're still in the game
and we want to continue here," said Antonio Roberto, the
authority's executive director. "On the other hand, there
are still some holes that need to be more completely filled."
"It's a pivotal part of the community there," Roberto
said, adding that the city and Mayor Eddie A. Perez are committed
to the project. Roberto said the authority's decision Wednesday
did not mean it was ruling out future funding opportunities for
Under the funding request, Hartford, rather than the university,
would make payments on the CDA bonds sold to finance the performing
arts center project.
City officials have run the numbers and say the site would generate
higher revenue for the city when it is improved. Although the
tax-exempt university would not be paying property taxes to the
city, the state would pay the city money in lieu of taxes on
the university's behalf, as it does for other tax-exempt properties.
The city council discussed the matter earlier this week, and
referred it to one of its committees for review.
The center would provide instructional, rehearsal and performance
space for musicians, dancers and actors in the university's conservatory.
It also would enable the school to expand its relationship with
the nearby Artists Collective.
The university will continue to raise money for the project,
including looking to the state's Department of Economic and Community
Development, as well as to the federal government and private
donors for support, Carson said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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