|NELSON KEPLEY/News & Record|
GREENSBORO — The planned downtown performing arts center will be named for the president and CEO of Tanger Factory Outlets Centers, who has pledged $7.5 million toward the project.
But the gift from Steven B. Tanger comes with a condition attached: To receive it, arts center supporters must raise another $6.67 million this year, to bring the total in private money to $35 million.
Tanger’s pledge is a personal one, not from his Greensboro-based company, and the largest yet toward the project.
As a result, the new venue will be named the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, expected to open in 2016.
Tanger’s gift brings the total of private pledges to roughly $28.3 million — a number that represents the largest private fundraising initiative in city history.
Another $30 million will come through the city, to be paid with parking fees, a user fee on tickets and hotel taxes.
The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and attorney Kathy Manning, leaders of private fundraising efforts, announced Tanger’s gift Monday to supporters gathered at The Empire Room downtown.
The crowd, which included Tanger family members, Mayor Robbie Perkins and several City Council members, greeted Tanger with a standing ovation.
“We intend to build the most beautiful center for the performing arts, with superior acoustics and cutting-edge technology, in the southeastern United States,” Tanger said.
Fundraisers expressed confidence that they would raise the remaining $6.67 million by Dec. 31.
They initially aimed to raise $20 million, then quickly surpassed that amount and increased their goal to $30 million.
Now, they plan to raise $35 million.
Pledges — which have come from individuals, families, foundations and businesses — will be paid over a period of five years.
“We are going to meet this goal,” Manning said. “It is going to take a lot of people stepping up.”
With $35 million from donors and $30 million from the city, the amount available for center construction and related costs would increase by $5 million, to $65 million.
Tanger said he made the challenge gift to ensure that the new center would be well-funded.
“The worst that could happen is if you build a facility and it’s underfunded, it will never operate successfully,” Tanger said.
After a year of work, in February a community task force recommended a 3,000-seat, state-of-the-art venue to replace War Memorial Auditorium in the Greensboro Coliseum complex. It would host national tours such as Broadway shows, concerts and comedians, and local events including Greensboro Symphony concerts.
The Community Foundation will form a small committee, including donors with expertise in the field, to help select the architects, Manning said. They will work with coliseum Director Matt Brown, who has been working on project plans and will manage the new center.
The City Council voted last month to purchase land bounded by North Elm and Lindsay streets and Summit Avenue as the site to build the center.
Ground is expected to be broken June 2014.
The center’s estimated opening date is March 2016.
“Everyone will be able to enjoy the riches of great performances that will add to the culture and improve the quality of life in the city we call home,” Tanger said.
Tanger’s father, the late Stanley K. Tanger, founded Tanger Factory Outlet Centers in 1981. The company now operates 43 centers in 26 states and Canada.
The Tanger family has shared its financial success through donations to cancer research and treatment, public parks and early childhood education.
The city’s Bicentennial Garden bears the family’s name.
“My father loved to say, ‘Do it now, make it happen and have fun,’ ” Steven Tanger said. “A center for the performing arts in Greensboro has been a dream for a lot of people for the last 10 years. We now have the fundraising within reach and the site identified.
“So let’s do it now.”