Demolition of the old Juneau Arts & Culture Center won’t start in spring as originally planed, but those spearheading the New JACC said Wednesday they’re confident the project will progress soon.
The annual Juneau Arts & Humanities Council meeting included an update on the status of the proposed New JACC in light of a bond measure falling a single vote short Aug. 20 of garnering City and Borough of Juneau Assembly approval to appear on ballots for the Oct. 2 election.
“I don’t have any doubt this will happen,” said New JACC Executive Director Katharine Heumann of building the New JACC. “It’s not if, it’s how.”
The how is still being finalized.
Bruce Botelho, co-chairman of the nonprofit board for construction of the New JACC, said when a $12 million general obligation bond package was not approved by the Assembly, it was a setback of at least several months if not a year.
“We’re going to run a few months later than we had been anticipating,” Heumann said. “There won’t be an April tear-down (of the old JACC).”
A special election in the spring could be a solution to secure funding through bonds, Botelho said, and pursuing revenue bonds instead of general obligation bonds is an option being considered, too. Revenue bonds are backed by a specific revenue stream, while general obligation bonds rely on the credit of the issuing municipality.
However, Botelho said bringing a bond measure to ballots is just one step.
“Getting it through the Assembly is the first hurdle, then the voters have to approve,” Botelho said.
Ben Brown, marketing and development director for JAHC, acknowledged a bond measure won’t be on October ballots but said if it were, it would be feasible.
Brown said based on debt falling off the City and Borough of Juneau’s books in coming years, a bond package could be approved, and property taxes could fall — albeit not as quickly as if no new debt was added.
Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove confirmed committed debt service is dropping precipitously over the next five fiscal years, providing no additional debt is incurred.
The exact form of the New JACC also is being determined.
Brown and Heumann said there has been discussion about the possibility of an enlarged community hall area and a covered connection to Centennial Hall, which is managed by the JAHC, but those plans aren’t final.
“It’s not written in stone,” Brown said. “It’s not even really written in paper anywhere.”
What’s been raised so far
Rachelle Bonnett, fundraising assistant manager for the New JACC, shared fundraising totals for the project that were current as of Wednesday afternoon.
So far, $4.99 million has been pledged, which Bonnett said brought the project to 19 percent of its goal, and 1,600 people have signed a statement of support for the New JACC, and there have been 380 donors.
Of those donors, 80 percent have been from Juneau, Bonnett said.
There have been 98 donations of $10,000 or more, and Bonnett said there are efforts in progress to secure more large donations from corporations, which have not yet been a significant source of money for the New JACC.
“We’re working hard to get some big donations from corporations,” Bonnett said.
The annual meeting marked the departure of JAHC Board President Eric Scott.
Scott, who is Dean of Students and Campus Life for University of Alaska Southeast, has served as president for the past three years. He said his resignation is to accommodate a doctorate of education program.
Board Vice President Bing Carrillo presented Scott with a piece of art and thanked him for his service.
“It’s been a wonderful ride,” Scott said. “I will miss it.”
New officers were also elected.
Debra O’Gara was voted president, Carrillo vice president, Justin McKoy treasurer and Mandy Mallott secretary.
Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @capweekly.