After years of planning and delays under multiple different mayors, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is nearly finished. Buddy Dyer and the rest of the City of Orlando council members want to speed that along, so they approved a joint interlocal agreement with Orange County Monday to spend $45 million in Tourist Development Tax money to finish the center’s Phase II.
This constitutes the city’s confirmation of a deal with the county that surfaced Sept. 9, when Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs announced her support, bringing to an end the months of strife and conflict over what would be done to fund the Dr. Phillips Center and other local venues.
Phase II includes the completion of the postponed-into-limbo final phase, the acoustic Steinmetz Hall.
The money isn’t going straight there yet – it’s still got to make its final lap around the field at next Tuesday’s Orange County Board of County Commissioners meeting.
Dyer and the rest of the council passed the agreement through without much argument.
“I’m especially proud of how the community and the city and county have continued the dream of building this performing arts center,” Dyer said.
The $45 million comes after a reallocation of the funds to get the Dr. Phillips Center built faster. $25 million of it is conditional upon the construction beginning before the end of the next fiscal year.
The money was easier to make available because of the soccer stadium the city is currently building downtown, which the team has taken ownership of and will fund privately from now on. That freed up $20 million to go toward the Dr. Phillips Center.
The benefits to both the City of Orlando and Orange County are plentiful: for the county, the agreement will release them from their obligation to pay for the city’s TDT funds and provide more tourist revenue in the long run once the Center is finished.
For the city, the agreement will reduce their debt and remove a small risk of a significant downturn in TDT revenue.
On Nov. 1, the agreement goes before the Orange County BOCC.