Richmond Mayor Considers Seizing Carpenter Center

Classic Arts News   Richmond Mayor Considers Seizing Carpenter Center
In the latest development in the battle over the Richmond Performing Arts Center, Mayor L. Douglas Wilder is considering taking over the Carpenter Center and opening it at soon as possible, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

The mayor's idea, which would involve the city taking the center in an eminent domain-style seizure, was floated to reporters on November 3; the mayor will discuss it with arts groups today.

Whether or not the city has the right to seize the property is being investigated.

Current plans for the Richmond Performing Arts Center include a new building in addition to renovations for the Carpenter Center, which is currently closed. The Carpenter Center was home to the Richmond Symphony, Richmond Ballet, and Virginia Opera.

The project, however, is currently stalled over issues of fundraising. The mayor and the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation have been at odds since last spring over whether the foundation can raise enough money to fund its ambitious $112 million project.

With this new idea, Richmond would have a downtown venue ready in time for the 2006-07 season, which would include the 400th anniversary of Virginia. It would also give arts groups time to raise an additional $20 million for the center's expansion.

James E. Ukrop, chair of Virginia Performing Arts Foundation, said, "To me, if that's what the city of Richmond wants, that's a question to be answered. I think our city and our region deserve a whole lot more than that."

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