In a change of plans, Oregon State University officials now say they will locate a $70 million arts and education complex at the corner of Southwest 15th Street and Washington Way on the OSU campus in Corvallis.
The original plan for the arts complex involved expanding and enhancing the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 SW 26th St. But, explained Steve Clark, OSU's vice president for university relations and marketing, locating the project there would have forced the center to close for two years for construction, leading to headaches in rescheduling the events and conferences that take place in the center.
"Those operations, which are really important to the university, would have to be offline for a two-year period," Clark said.
In addition, he said, the costs of renovating and expanding an existing building were considerable. Moving to a new location allows the project to remain within its budget — and offers a site that is somewhat closer to the heart of campus, he said.
The new location, south of the Kerr Administration Building, allows the LaSells Stewart Center to remain open while construction takes place on the new site. Clark said groundbreaking on the new facility is expected to occur in June 2020, with completion scheduled in summer 2022.
The future location of the arts center is now being used by OSU Facilities Services, which will move to university-owned property near the northwest corner of 35th Street and Western Boulevard. That location used to be occupied by the OSU Foundation, which recently moved to a location on Southwest Research Way.
Design work for the arts complex is underway, and plans call for it to include a 500-seat concert hall, a 200-seat black box theater, rehearsal and practice rooms, offices, technology and recording rooms and landscaped outdoor gathering places.
An addition to the plan calls for the facility to include an art exhibition space; when plans for the center first were announced in 2017, OSU officials were talking about a stand-alone arts center in the vicinity of the LaSells Stewart Center. The new site will include an exhibition space.
That addition, Clark said, is among the reasons why the price tag for the project has jumped to $70 million from its initial $60 million estimate.
A lead gift of $25 million has been provided by an anonymous donor, and the project also has received a $2 million commitment from the family of the late Lynne Detrick of West Linn to build the 500-seat concert hall.
Clark said fundraising efforts to raise another $8 million or so are continuing, and the hope is that those efforts get a boost from the announcement of the new location.
OSU officials hope to get $35 million in bonding authority from the 2020 Legislature to cover the remainder of the project's cost.
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