Fundraising for project taking time

Officials ask for patience on performing arts center

Staff photo by Adam Urquhart Nashua Economic Development Director Tim Cummings on Tuesday discussed the city’s planned downtown performing arts center, which would be located at the former Alec’s Shoes building at the corner of West Pearl and Main streets.

NASHUA – City leaders hope to raise $6.5 million worth of private sector funding for the downtown performing arts center, with $4 million to serve as an endowment and the remaining $2.5 million to support construction.

Also, Nashua Economic Development Director Tim Cummings on Tuesday said city officials plan to enter an agreement with a soon-to-be formed private nonprofit organization. The new 501 (c)(3) entity would be responsible for carrying out the vision for the planned 700-seat theater, which would located on the site of the former Alec’s Shoes building at the corner of West Pearl and Main streets.

“The plan has always been to have a nonprofit run the performing arts center,” Cummings said. “Currently, we are in the process of forming a nonprofit, as well as soliciting proposals from professional companies to secure bookings and manage the facility under the governance of the nonprofit. The city will not be involved in day-to-day operations.”

During a special Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday, Cummings presented the results of the recently conducted capital campaign feasibility study. Although it has taken some time to get things in order, he asks residents and taxpayers to remain positive as officials move toward their next phase.

“This is not my performing arts center – this is the city of Nashua’s performing arts center,” Cummings added.

Documents made available Tuesday show officials aim to secure a total of $6.5 million in private sector funding, with $4 million serving as an endowment and the remaining $2.5 million to support construction.

The total cost to complete the project is estimated at $15.5 million.

Projected sources of private sector funding include proceeds of the sale of New Market Tax Credits to private businesses for the approximate $4 million, and private charitable contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations along with the sale of New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority tax credits to area businesses for the remaining $2.5 million.

“We need to do this right, and to do this right we needed to take a step back,” Cummings said. “We needed to assess our situation and we need to do our due diligence.”

“Relative to the $4 million, city staff and the New Market Tax Credit consultant have begun the process to apply for and secure an allocation of a new market tax credit,” Cummings added. “The expectation is that the letter of commitment in second quarter of 2019 would be forthcoming and cash would be available by the end of 2019.”

Cummings said moving forward, he will be taking a step back and won’t be so much the face of this initiative anymore. He will still be there to support and move the project forward, but it will now be led by a group of individuals.

The feasibility study is under the purview of the Capital Campaign work group, led by:

 Nashua Arts Commission member Judith Carlson,

 Downtown Improvement Committee member Marlou Blaisdell,

 Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tracy Hall, and

 Board of Aldermen member Patricia Klee.

“We are talking about something that is essentially, in its nature, a start-up and a start-up, in its nature, will need to change and adapt and evolve,” Cummings said. “Change isn’t necessarily bad, and it’s, in fact, OK as long as we don’t lose sight of our goals. So, some of the details will evolve and they have evolved from when we first started, and just as long as we stay true to the goals that we outlined in the beginning, we will be successful with this project.”

The report Cummings highlighted during the special Board of Aldermen meeting was prepared by Full Circle Consulting Principal Betsy McNamara. The city hired the firm, which specializes in facilitating capital campaigns for nonprofits.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.