Three days after City Council agreed to give $14 million in tax dollars to renovate the Landmark Theater, the group managing the work scaled back part of the project, citing an "unanticipated reduction" in funding.
In a June 1 filing with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the Richmond Performing Arts Center indicated it was cutting back the first two phases of the project, which began in July, by $7.6 million. In order to obtain federal and state historic tax credits, construction plans first must be approved by the state and National Park Service.
Two months earlier, those first two phases involved $11.4 million in renovation work, according to state filings. That included a new roof and improvements to the restrooms, concession areas, sidewalks, lounge spaces, loading docks and the theater's internal offices.
The amended filings in June scaled back the plans to include facade work, minor roof repairs, exit path lighting and prep work for a new box office and other building upgrades, a total of $3.75 million.
So as not to disrupt Landmark's fall season, some work likely had to be scaled back because of the delays, says John Winter, chief capital projects manager for the city. "There had to be documents approved by council in order for the project to move forward," he says. "I think that had a lot to do with the shortening of the window of available time."
It's unclear if the initial reduction in funds will affect the overall project. Altria Group agreed to pay $10 million for the naming rights to the Landmark in July, but that money is being provided while the work progresses during the next two years.
The city's $14 million doesn't kick in until next July. The rest of the money is to come from historic tax credits ($18 million) and private fundraising ($8 million).
The Richmond Performing Arts Center has yet to publicly disclose details of the renovation work. In a response to a Freedom of Information Act request in mid-July, the city provided a breakdown of projected costs, but no specifics of work being performed.
In a statement released Monday, CenterStage says now that there wasn't a shortfall in funding. "The amendment [to state filings] reflects a change in timing to the start of construction and financing, not any change in the project scope or cost. ... Some of these renovations were moved to later phases."
Nowhere in the city's breakdown of project costs, nor state filings, is it clear that the $7.6 million in project work has been moved to later phases. According to the city's estimate, provided Aug. 6, construction costs are $44.2 million, with an additional $5.8 million in soft costs, for a total of $49.99 million. In its state filings April 9, the arts center estimates total construction costs at $53.46 million. On June 1, total costs are estimated to come in at $45.75 million.