SOUTHINGTON — A $1-a-year lease signed this week gives a non-profit arts group the use of the former town hall annex, which it plans to turn into a regional arts and cultural center.
"Our architect is finishing final plans and we hope to approval to start work in September," Mary DeCroce, leader of Southington Community Cultural Arts said Friday. "It will take about a year to do the work. It's been a great adventure so far."
The group has raised $1.1 million in an effort to turn the century-old Main Street annex into a community arts center with studios, classroom space and a theater. DeCroce said the group is continuing fundraising to get an additional $300,000.
That total will cover the estimated $1.27 million renovation cost and enable the group to set aside $200,000 for future building maintenance. The maintenance fund was a stipulation requested by town officials who did not want to be responsible for the building's upkeep.
The 20-year lease, approved in July by the council after the SCCA met a town condition that the group raise at least 80 percent of the estimated cost. The annex had once been the police station and was used for town offices.
Town Manager Garry Brumback signed the lease on Aug. 13 after the document was prepared by town legal staff.
A local development firm, Florian Properties LLC, is drafting the plans and will supervise the project for the non-profit arts group.
The fund drive got a big boost last year when the State Bond Commission approved $500,000 for the project. DeCroce said the large contribution made it clear to potential donors that the project was a serious proposal.
The century-old brick building at 93 Main St. is known as the Gura Building, in honor of the town's late longtime health director, Dr. George Gura.
The last town agency to use the facility was the finance department, which moved two years ago into town hall after most other town services moved into the Municipal Center in the former North Center School on nearby North Main Street.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun