2009-12-20 / Dining & Entertainment

Owosso Community Players set to rebuild the Lebowsky Center

OWOSSO -- The Owosso City Council has provided a firm foundation from which to launch the Rebuild Lebowsky project. This foundation in the form of a $350,000 grant from Michigan State Housing Development Commission

MSHDA) was recently awarded to the Owosso Community Players by the City. This action opens the door to the next steps of this project.

“The Rebuild Project is designed in three phases”, said Linda Keenan, executive director of OCP. “Phase One was completed in 2007 and financed by OCP through resources on hand and building insurance. This phase included demolition, clean up of the site, and stabilization of life safety issues after the fire. Steel was installed to reinforce the stage roof and prepare for future work.”

Phase Two of the project, funded in part by the MSHDA grant, will complete the exterior façade work and place a roof on the building. Following the action of the city council earlier this month, bid document preparation for this phase is being completed. Construction work will not be seen immediately. Bids need to be awarded and the time for delivery of steel can take as long as 12 weeks. Phase Two is expected to be complete by mid year 2010 and will restore the exterior of building to its original façade.

Phase Three of the project is described by Cheryl Peterson, co-chair of the Rebuild Committee, as the “completion of the theater so that it can once again be used for theatrical productions and other performances”. This phase is expected to begin in 2011 and be completed in early 2012.

“Planning and development of this phase has been underway for months with the guidance and expertise of Bazzani Associates and GunnLevine Architects”, said Peterson. The theater will include a 550 seat auditorium, an expanded lobby, a wider stage, state of the art lighting, sound, and resilient stage floor.

According to Guy Bazzani of Bazzani Associates, the total project cost is expected to be $5,000,000. A financing plan has been developed that realizes $3,500,000 of this amount from tax credits and the MSHDA grant.

“Simply said”, Bazzani explained, “that means that large corporations will purchase tax credits from this project to offset that corporation’s tax liability. OCP will use the funds generated from the sale of these tax credits and the MSHDA grant to fund the majority (70%) of the total project cost”. The sale of the tax credits will be completed before Phase Three is begun.

“The remainder of the cost, $1.5 million, will be raised through a combination of local donations and grants from private foundations or organizations”, according to Anna Owens who serves as co-chair of the Rebuild Committee and as gift team coordinator.

Cathy Stevenson is coordinating the work of the Grant Committee as grants are being sought from several sources. “We expect to raise about half of this amount from local donations and the other half from private grants’, said Stevenson. Local donations already raised total $112,500. Donations of any size are welcomed from all community members.

“The community at large will also be offered the opportunity to participate in rebuilding the Lebowsky through supporting several events open to the community”, said Kit Kuhlman, coordinator of the Event Team. These events, for which planning is now beginning, will step off in the spring of 2010.

Mike Kruszkowski, president of the OCP board, summed up the recent developments and the next steps, “We are very excited and grateful to the Owosso City Council and Main Street Owosso for their recent actions that have provided the momentum for us to move forward. We appreciate all the organizations and businesses that have written letters of support for our grant requests. We thank Chemical Bank for their support. We ask the community to continue to come along side us in the next many months as we rebuild this historic anchor in our downtown and are an active part of downtown revitalization”.

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