Monday, January 5, 2009

Az Museum of the West pushed back a year

What "Museum of the West" would be complete without a wild horse herd?

Scottsdale Museum of the West pushed back a year
By Ari Cohn Tribune

Completion of the Scottsdale Museum of the West, which had been scheduled to coincide with the centennial celebration of Arizona statehood in 2012, will be delayed by up to a year because of the faltering economy, city officials say.

"As you can imagine, in today's world, fundraising is a little more challenging than two to three years ago," said Harold Stewart, Scottsdale economic development director.

Previously, the western-themed museum, slated to host a gallery called "Icons of the West" and rotating exhibitions, had been expected to be done by February 2012, in conjunction with Arizona's celebration of 100 years of statehood. Plans for the 45,000-square-foot museum - to be situated on nearly an acre at the northwest corner of First Street and Marshall Way in Scottsdale's Old Town district - call for a partially solar-powered glass and steel structure, three stories above ground and one below.

Stewart said the expected completion date has been pushed back to early 2013. The city andthe nonprofit Museum of the West, which is spearheading the project, anticipate an ebb in donations because of anemic economic conditions, he said.

The facility's estimated construction cost is $20 million to $25 million, with the nonprofit aiming to raise an additional $5 million for an endowment to fund maintenance and operations, he said.

So far, the city has expended about $1.5 million on feasibility studies and design concepts. Scottsdale has committed to providing another $6 million and leasing the city-owned land to the nonprofit once the group raises $15 million in private donations, Stewart said. The city funding would pay for outdoor projects accessible to the public, like plazas and public art, he said.

Robin Meinhart, Scottsdale's downtown liaison, said officials expect it will take about two years for the nonprofit to reach its funding goals.

"The economic climate has changed everything," she said. "It's a huge sum to obtain."

On Jan. 13, the City Council is scheduled to act on a development agreement with the nonprofit that would establish which aspects of the project each party will be responsible for, she said.

"The intent of the development agreement is to establish a clear and understandable definition of what the roles and responsibilities are between the developers and the city," Meinhart said.

The nonprofit would own and operate the buildings and lease the land from the city for 30 years, with an option for an additional 20 years.

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