Orange Co. mayor says county will give another $25M toward performing arts center

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs announced Monday the county will put $25 million toward construction of Phase 2 of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The money is in addition to the county's earlier commitment of $138.6 million.

The contribution is expected to help solidify the money needed to complete the new center.

Jacobs said there has been a healthy increase in the county's tourism development tax dollars, so she's confident that the $25 million will be able to come out of the county's reserves without impacting the general budget.

Without the county's contribution, Jacobs said, Phase 2, the third theater, would remain just a dream for years to come.

"If we delay two, three years and we're talking about tens of millions of dollars, and the reality [is] that we might not ever get it done," said Jacobs.

But two years ago, Jacobs hesitated to provide funding for the project.

"A number of things have changed," she said. "The economy's changed, tourism development tax revenues, two, three years of watching healthy reserves."

On Friday, Dr. Phillips' charities announced a $10 million gift for the second phase of the center. It is a portion that was in jeopardy just a few years ago.

The center still needs $65 million in donations for Phase 2.

"The last hall is a spectacular hall," said chair Jim Pugh. "It converts hydraulically from an opera house to a symphony hall, and the seats can turn upside-down into a flat floor. It's never been done in any performing arts center."

Officials said they're confident they'll be able to break ground on the second phase by this time next year.