South Carolina lawmakers are expected to face a tough economic year with a $1 billion deficit at the state level. It’s not just those at the Statehouse dealing with budget problems though–also local municipalities. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says despite the budget woes in the coming year, he’s not letting the economy stop him from making needed improvements. One such improvement–a newly renovated Gaillard Auditorium, a multi-purpose facility rented by promoters for various performing arts events. This would cost around $150 million.
It’s the right time and it’s the best time for a lot of reasons. First of all, half of the money for this publicly owned investment is going to be given by the private sector–$71 million is going to be raised. Secondly, no money from our 2011 budget will go into this.
Charleston is known for its unique culture and as a center for performing arts in South Carolina. The Gaillard Auditorium, located in the heart of downtown Charleston, near the South Carolina Aquarium, in the past has served as just one facility to attract locals and tourists, with shows, live performances and conferences. However, Riley says capacity has become an issue.
Because it’s 40 years old, about, and doesn’t quite fit anymore in terms of the demand, it’s too big for many things and too small for many things, the acoustics for unamplified music is not good and so the Gaillard loses money. So, that impacts the budget.
As Riley stated, $71 million would come from private sectors, but the rest of the $150 million would come from city taxpayers. That’s where the opposition comes in, but Riley says the new improvements will benefit everyone.
It’s various pockets of money that doesn’t negatively impact the budget at all, and then the taxpayers end up with a wonderful investment, half of which is paid for by the private sector, an investment that will have a positive impact on the city.
Riley says part of the positive impact will come from job creation in the area.
We did an economic feasibility and it will have a huge positive impact on the community. It will create like 400 permanent jobs, the economic activity. We are expanding the exhibit hall to make it more functional and have more users. And, it will cost you like 20 to 25 percent less to build something now.
Construction on the new Gaillard Auditorium will begin in August of 2012 and will open in September of 2014.