For the second time in as many years, the Colleges have elected to pursue financing through the City of Geneva rather than other sources so that the City can have the benefit of interest generated revenue. Hobart and William Smith have recently requested tax-exempt revenue bonds from Geneva’s Local Development Corporation (LDC) toward construction of the 65,000-square-foot Performing Arts Center that is set to break ground in April 2014.
Funding the project through LDC will generate more than $113,000 in revenue that the City can use to expand or establish projects in Geneva. In 2012, the Colleges refinanced its capital project debt through the LDC, resulting in more than $220,000 for the City which was used to initiate the “Race for Space” and “Live Where You Work” programs.
“Pursuing financing that benefits City residents reaffirms the Colleges’ commitment to our longstanding partnership with Geneva,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “This is an exciting time to live and work in Geneva and we are dedicated to doing everything we can to continue the momentum of Geneva and the Finger Lakes region.”
The approval of such a bond requires a public hearing, authorization of the bonding by City Council and a final motion by the LDC board. All approvals were received in February.
Designed by acclaimed Cambridge, Mass.,-based architecture and planning firm The GUND Partnership, the Performing Arts Center will be located in what is now Medbery Parking Lot, across from the Warren Hunting Smith Library and the Scandling Campus Center, creating an academic commons on Pulteney Street. The facade of the brick building will be consistent with the fabric of the campus and include tall windows, steep pitched roofs and a tower. Internally, plans for the academic facility include a sweeping, open lobby linking flexible performance and rehearsal spaces specially designed for theatre, music and dance. Adaptable seating will allow for the creation of spaces that can be changed to accommodate multiple types of productions and audience sizes. In its current form, academic space for theatre, music and dance will seat, respectively, 140, 120 and 250 audience members.
The facility will also include acoustically robust rehearsal spaces, recital halls, faculty offices and a film screening room. The building will be wired with the latest technology, providing facilities for students interested in lighting, sound or stage management.
Members of the greater Geneva community will share in the new arts and events space through community programs as well as those hosted by HWS. In partnership with the Smith Center for the Arts, large-scale performances will continue to be held at the Smith Opera House in downtown Geneva.
The Colleges have retained Welliver, located in Montour Falls, N.Y., as its construction manager. The local firm has significant experience in higher education including projects for R.I.T. and Cornell University. It is anticipated that the project will be certified LEED Silver at a minimum with work being done to achieve Gold. The building will feature natural storm water management, energy efficient utilities and LED performance lighting.
Representing more than five years of planning and thanks to the generosity of alumni, alumnae, parents, members of the HWS community, and New York’s Empire State Development, $26 million has been committed toward the project, the largest of its kind in the Colleges’ history.