By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Performing arts center: Act II?
$1.5M in RDA seed money still available for $18M project
The inside of Tracys Grand Theatre Center for the Arts. - photo by Photo Contributed

A decade-old dream of a Manteca performing arts/community center could start moving forward.

That’s because it is the only viable project in bond documents not funded by the City Council last week with leftover redevelopment agency funds.

The council committed $28 million of $43 million of remaining RDA bond proceeds to five projects:

• $10 million to widen the Union Roads bridge across the 120 Bypass.

• $10.5 million for regional infrastructure improvements south of the 120 Bypass.

• $4 million toward creating an interchange at McKinley Avenue and the 120 Bypass.

• $1,225,000 to extend Milo Candini Drive where it ends at the Big League Dreams sports complex north to Yosemite Avenue.

• $2 million for community park improvements.

The California Legislature’s decision to pull the plug on redevelopment agencies statewide to help balance the state budget left Manteca with $43 million unspent in bond receipts that Sacramento couldn’t legally seize.

Staff indicated work would proceed on the five projects within the coming year. That, however doesn’t mean actual construction will start. Engineering and environmental reports still need to be done in most cases. Also, the city needs to obtain other funding sources. There are growth fee accounts the city can tap in addition to seeking funds from state and federal sources where appropriate.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted any money not spent on the five projects could be shifted to other projects.

What isn’t clear is whether the city can exceed funding levels for specific projects identified in RDA bond documents or add projects if it exhausts the list.

The only other project on the bonding document list is the community center/performing arts center allocated $1.5 million.

The South County courthouse/police station project with $5 million set aside has already been spent.

City documents note the courthouse project allocation funded the purchase of 13.37 acres by the city on South Main Street just north of Funtsen’ flooring distribution center. The city has since secured land along the 120 Bypass and Daniels Street near the intersection of Fishback Road just south of the Airport Way/120 Bypass interchange for a county administration center that will not include a courthouse. San Joaquin County Superior Court has essentially abandoned plans to build a South County satellite court complex in favor of plowing money into a new court complex in downtown Stockton.

While there is no immediate rush, Manteca’s leaders must address how the remaining $15 million will be allocated now that the $28 million was set aside last week to move the five projects forward with the oversight board’s blessing. Of that $15 million, $5.6 million represents funds from the 2005 bond projects that were either cancelled or funded from other revenue sources. It also includes interest on the RDA money.

The bottom line is that it is clear that at least $1.5 million of that can go toward a performing arts/community center project.

But $1.5 million won’t go very far.

The capital improvement plan deferred projects in the current year’s budget lists a performing arts center and community center as not being in the economically feasible realm of the next five years. A performing and visual arts center carries an $18 million price tag. A community center has a $16 million price tag.

A study by AMS Planning commissioned by the council in 2002 concluded Manteca could support a performing arts center and that the best sized facility would accommodate between 600 to 800 people.

The initial study concluded:

• Market analysis supports family orientated and community based programming.

• Significant demand exists from arts groups and the schools.

• Existing facilities are limited and none are technically suitable or available for frequent performing arts uses.

• Comparable facilities indicate partnerships and multi-use spaces are keys to success.

One aspect of the first phase research zeroed in on the type of population Manteca had in 2002. It noted that 25 percent of the population within five miles of downtown Manteca has a household income of $50,000 to $74,999 and about 13 percent had income of between $75,000 and $99,999. Those numbers reflect the high income levels found in “traditional arts” audiences according to AMS.

The performing arts center study was the outgrowth of recommendations made by a 25-member citizens committee dubbed the Vision 2002 Task Force to devise a municipal goal for what Manteca should offer in 20 years in terms of amenities, economic opportunities and neighborhood design.

That study was completed in 1998.

McLaughlin noted the five RDA projects moving forward will provide the city with a significant economic stimulus.

How ever the remaining $15 million in RDA funds eventually are spent, the city must gain the approval of the oversight committee as well as the State of California.