The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts has been a big part of the Orlando construction scene since its groundbreaking in 2011, and it’s had plenty of ups and downs in that time. With construction now reaching an end, the center is scheduled for its grand open in November 2014.
Funding Challenges Overcome
Given the high prices in Orlando construction and the size of the center, it’s not surprising costs for the center have reached $514 million. Two-thirds of that money comes from public sources, primarily Orange County’s tourist development tax. Rough economic conditions and a down-turn in hotel room sales limited the availability of public funds.
Beam Signing Celebration – drphillipscenter.org
The remaining one-third of funding for the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts has come from numerous private donors. In addition to major donations from the Dr. Phillips Charities, assistance has from Walt Disney World, the Orlando Magic, and Jim and Alexis Pugh has also been given.
To keep construction progressing despite funding difficulties, developers divided the work into two phases. Phase I included the 2,700-seat Broadway-style amplified hall, dubbed the Walt Disney Theater, and the 300-seat multi-purpose hall known as the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater. Phase II includes the 1,700 seat Acoustical Theater.
The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts occupies two full city blocks, so simply finding space was another challenge. Construction involved demolition of the American Federal Building, Orlando Fire Department Station #1, and a building belonging to the First United Methodist Church of Orlando.
Because much construction work remains before the center is ready for guests, only two of the center’s main venues will be prepared for performances when the center opens: the Walt Disney Theater and the Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater. The arts education area will also be ready for use.
Celebrations surrounding the ribbon-cutting ceremony are currently scheduled for early November. Members of the public are invited to attend the community open house and free performances.
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