GAILLARD CENTER Q & A
- Why don't we just say no to the Gaillard Center project so we can devote those resources to fixing the drainage?
- What about other capital projects? Will Gaillard Center interfere with getting them done?
- Is it true that Gaillard Center takes money away from the school district? If so, isn't that a mistake in terms of priorities?
- What about people who don't ever go to Gaillard. Why should they support it?
- Will the private contribution campaign take money away from other organizations such as the Symphony or the Gibbes?
- Why not just build the performance hall with the $71 million in private contributions?
- How will property taxes be affected by the bond issue, the TIF, or the tax credits?
- What happens if the private contributions are not raised? And how realistic is the $71 million goal?
- Who conducted the economic impact analysis, and what does it show?
- What's the bottom line benefit of Gaillard Center?
Mayor Joseph P. Riley addresses many questions regarding Gaillard Center below. If you have additional comments or questions, please complete the Contact Us form here.
Why don't we just say no to the Gaillard Center project so we can devote those resources to fixing the drainage?
If we don't do Gaillard Center now, we will not have the required funds to move the drainage project forward; the drainage project should have and requires federal and state funding assistance. The major source of public funds available for Gaillard Center (Tax Increment Financing and New Market Tax Credits) can only be used for this type of project.
What about other capital projects? Will Gaillard Center interfere with getting them done?
Absolutely not. Gaillard Center will not interfere with any other capital project. It will not interfere with Northbridge Park, or the Arthur Christopher Gym, or the Greenway in West Ashley, or Governor's Park on Daniel Island or the Huger Street Fire Station or the Heriot Street Fire Station. And we have money set aside for Stoney Field, for which the school district is committed to putting its share in the next school district bond issue.
Gaillard Center doesn't interfere with anything. It adds to our community, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we should seize.
Is it true that Gaillard Center takes money away from the school district? If so, isn't that a mistake in terms of priorities?
Let me say first that Gaillard Center can turn out to be our community's largest classroom. My dream would be that students from every grade at every school could come to Gaillard Center to see and hear performances, master classes, and other opportunities to enrich their lives. I'd like to see the school district be able to use Gaillard free of charge at certain times of year. Gaillard Center should be a vital resource for our community's schools.
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds that will be used for Gaillard Center are funds the school district has never used.
What about people who don't ever go to Gaillard. Why should they support it?
For the same reason that they support schools or parks or playgrounds or any other City amenity that they may not personally use but which add so measurably to the quality of people's lives here.
Gaillard Center will create almost 1,000 construction-related jobs and nearly 400 new, full-time jobs. It will have an annual economic impact of more than $62 million. Half of its cost will be paid by private contributions. It will involve no tax increases. In fact, it will save taxpayers money and increase City revenues.
And it will change lives. It will inspire children, opening their minds to creativity at a level they may never otherwise see.
How do we know there aren't going to be cost over-runs, the way there were on the Aquarium?
The budget for Gaillard Center accommodates the cost increases that we can expect during the construction period. We are confident that the number is firm.
Of course, one way to add to the cost would be for City Council to delay taking favorable action on Gaillard Center. Each month of delay costs $366,000.
It would be tragic to drag our feet, thereby losing $366,000 a month and further risking losing the $71 million of private contributions that will pay half the cost of Gaillard Center.
As for the Aquarium, there were enormous complexities related to its site, which was a brownfield requiring substantial mitigation. But let me say that the Aquarium has become one of the most successful aquariums in the country, heralded everywhere for its contributions to education and the environment. It is a true center of excellence, right here in Charleston. And its annual economic impact exceeds $25 million!
Will the private contribution campaign take money away from other organizations such as the Symphony or the Gibbes?
Every arts organization in Charleston benefits from Gaillard Center. The Symphony, for example, experienced declining attendance at the current auditorium for two reasons. First, subscriptions declined because the auditorium is so big that potential subscribers knew they could always buy good tickets at the last minute. Second, the inferior acoustics and out-of-date facilities made for a lackluster audience experience. Spoleto also had declining attendance at its Gaillard events.
So every performing arts organization benefits from a world-class facility. And so do visual arts organizations, since there should be opportunities in Gaillard Center for all of the arts and arts organizations to be well represented.
Why not just build the performance hall with the $71 million in private contributions?
The performance hall itself would cost much more than $71 million. Furthermore, there are significant community benefits in having both a renovated exhibition hall and consolidated City offices at Gaillard Center.
Our current exhibition hall is out of date and inflexible. The space cannot be divided. The facilities for food service, as well as loading and unloading are inadequate. The City loses money on the exhibition hall. A renovated hall would better accommodate its users and add to the City's revenue.
Consolidating City offices will involve moving from several leased spaces to a single space that the City owns, built on land the City already owns as well. This will save the taxpayers money and make it much easier and more convenient for citizens to access their City's offices.
How will property taxes be affected by the bond issue, the TIF, or the tax credits?
Not at all.
What happens if the private contributions are not raised? And how realistic is the $71 million goal?
Without the private support, Gaillard Center will not proceed.
A consulting firm believes the $71 million can be raised. An anonymous donor has already committed $20 million, and a professional campaign will be undertaken very shortly.
There is tremendous interest in making Gaillard Center a world-class facility. Money follows excellence. People questioned that the money would ever be raised to start Spoleto or the Aquarium or any of a number of other bold initiatives here. With vision, leadership, commitment and discipline, this can and will be done.
And remember, just as the public contribution to Gaillard Center is being matched one-to-one. So is the private contribution. Each half – private and public – basically gets twice their money's worth with Gaillard Center.
And our community gets a world-class resource for generations to enjoy.
Who conducted the economic impact analysis, and what does it show?
C.H. Johnson Company of Chicago completed a thorough analysis, with the involvement of the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). The analysis showed Gaillard Center providing annual economic impact of $62 million.
What's the bottom line benefit of Gaillard Center?
- New civic place – attractive and contextual
- World-class performance hall – right-sized and up-to-date
- Renovated and expanded exhibition hall – more revenue for City
- Consolidated City offices – save taxpayers money, easier/more convenient for citizens
- Optimal time to build – 25% lower than 3 years ago, 11% lower than 5 years hence
- Half cost paid by private contributions
- Jobs – nearly 1,000 construction-related jobs, almost 400 new, full-time jobs
Thirty years from now, the history books will say that Charleston was smart enough and courageous enough to seize this opportunity to create Gaillard Center.