The clock has been set and members of Southington Community Cultural Arts now have 18 months to raise over $1 million in order to get their shot to open a brand new community arts center in downtown Southington.
And if you ask SCCA members and president Mary DeCroce, they will tell you they are confident that they can make it happen.
“We know it’s going to be a lot of work. We’ve got a lot to do in a very short time,” DeCroce said. “At this point, there are preservation grants that help account for nearly half that cost and if we act quickly, it will give us a good jumpstart to raise what’s needed.”
The group received the go-ahead to begin fundraising on Monday as the Southington Town Council approved a feasibility study that determined the group would need to raise a total of $1.71 million without any cost to the town in order to complete renovations.
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The motion was approved after an 8-1 vote, with Councilwoman Stephanie Urillo serving as the lone opposition. Urillo previous said she supports the efforts to bring an arts center to Southington but expressed concerns that the Gura Building would not be a sustainable location for such a venture.
“The SCCA has worked diligently and they’ve provided everything we’ve asked for. It’s time to give them a chance to raise the money,” Councilwoman Dawn Miceli said Monday.
Under an agreement reached with the town in September, the SCCA has 18-months to raise 80 percent of the funding, of approximately $1.3 million.
It’s not an impossible feat if the group can secure grant funding from the state, an effort that will start with the help of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, a group that has said they would work to secure preservation grants totaling $550,000 for the effort.
Furthermore, DeCroce and her husband David DeCroce said the group has already recognized cost savings in the recently completed feasibility study including a savings of $300,000 to $400,000 in construction, as well as in-kind services that are being volunteered by an independent architect that has stepped forward to assist in project design and preparation.
“The feasibility study also factors in prevailing wages. This is not a town project, being done independent of town liability and for a non-profit, so it is not a prevailing wage job,” David DeCroce said. “That provides us with considerable saving right away. We also have not done any value engineering for the project yet.”
Assuming the project would save $400,000 through these efforts, the group would still be responsible for $1.03 million in fundraising.
DeCroce said the group has been researching opportunities for the past year and a half now and is ready to begin their fundraising efforts immediately. With the group ready to go, she said they would begin a campaign for local assistance in the very near future.
The only thing left is to see if the SCCA can beat the clock.
“This means it’s time to get started,” she said. “We have 18 months and either we will do it or we won’t. Only time will tell.”
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