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Morning Sun
  • PSU awards bid for arts center

  • More than 30 years after Pittsburg State University demolished Carney Hall, and with it the performing arts theater that showcased such famous acts as the Duke Ellington and Count Basie Orchestras, the university is just weeks away from breaking ground on a new performing arts center.

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  • More than 30 years after Pittsburg State University demolished Carney Hall, and with it the performing arts theater that showcased such famous acts as the Duke Ellington and Count Basie Orchestras, the university is just weeks away from breaking ground on a new performing arts center.
    University officials on Friday announced that they had chosen Crossland Construction as the general contractor for the new Center for the Arts, which will be located at the northeast corner of Ford and Homer Streets. The university has been without a large, on-campus performance venue since Carney Hall was razed. There were always plans in place for a new center, but the project didn’t get off the ground until an anonymous donor committed $10 million to the project five years ago. More funding was secured after students voted in a referendum to contribute $7 million in student fees over the next 20 years. Additionally, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, donated $5 million in honor of alumnus and former Walmart President CEO H. Lee Scott and his wife, Linda.
    The remaining $8 million was funded entirely through private donations, and the university had a record fund-raising year in 2011 — overall fundraising brought in about $17.83 million,  including about $400,000 in donations from current and retired faculty — the largest amount in university history.
    “There is no state funding in this,” PSU president Steve Scott said Friday afternoon. “We just got after it and got it done. We are so fortunate to have the generous support we have throughout the community.”
    There were seven contractors who submitted bids for the project. They were Crossland Construction, of Columbus; Timberlake Construction Company Inc., of Oklahoma City, Okla.; McCownGordon Construction LLC, of Kansas City, Mo.; M W Builders, Inc., of Temple, Texas; Key Construction, Inc., of Wichita; The Weitz Company LLC, of Lenexa; and Flintco LLC, of Tulsa, Okla. Crossland won in a tight race with Timberlake Construction Company, Inc. The bids can be reviewed on the Kansas Department of Administration’s website.
    “We feel they were very competitive,” Scott said, adding the center will retain most of the desired features including the large and small theaters and a rehearsal area. “We’re very pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish here.”
    Paul Stewart, director of facilities planning, said officials made sure that the highest-quality design features remained in the center.
    “It’s important for performances to be a factor in the center, especially for acoustics,” Stewart said, adding that the center’s main auditorium will have a removable band shell to accommodate amplified and non-amplified performances. “Groups won’t come back if it doesn’t work, especially road shows.”
    Scott agreed.
    “I don’t think there’s any doubt that we hired top-notch consultants,” he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - The contract calls for construction of the facility to cost $30.3 million. Architectural fees and other costs will bring the total to $33.6 million.
    Kathleen Flannery, executive director of university development, said that though the funding required for construction to begin is in-hand or pledged, there is still work to be done.
    “We’ve rounded the last turn of the race and now is the time for that final burst of energy,” Flannery in a university release. “There remains a need for private support to help us furnish and equip this facility at a level that provides the very best experience for our students and community.”
    Up to this point the project has taken about 14 months, from hiring the architects to finalizing construction documents. It will take about a month to finalize contracts and notice to proceed documents, and work should begin in late January or early February. Construction should take about two years to complete.
    Scott said he doesn’t know who the inaugural act will be once the center is open, but it’s a question that lingers somewhere within his thoughts.
    “I imagine being on stage and saying ‘Thank you’ to everyone,” Scott said. “I think for a project of this magnitude you have to envision things like that. It’s something that invigorates people.”
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