The more discussions take place about a cultural arts center in Flower Mound, the more evident it becomes that a partnership will be the most likely way a facility gets built.
During the Town Council’s strategic planning session last week, the council received several recommendations from consulting firm Webb Management Services, which conducted the first phase of a feasibility study for an arts center in the town.
Debra Wallace, assistant town manager and CFO, said if the town moves forward with center based on the recommendations, it could be looking at a 60,000-square-foot facility at a cost of $32 million. But specifics have not been decided.
Based on the town’s demographic, the community’s interest in the arts and the lack of medium- to large-sized venues, the firm recommended the town pursue a 600-seat (or 850-person standing room) facility with a focus on music, both traditional and contemporary. It would feature new technology and high-quality acoustics.
The firm envisioned additional space for rehearsals, an education wing with classrooms for visual art, music and dance, as well as practice rooms and music studio/production space.
Other recommendations include a gallery and exhibition space for the ability to host rotating shows and receptions.
“There’s a lot of need to display the art, and we don’t have too many opportunities here in town to show art pieces,” said Andrea Roy, economic development director.
It’s also recommended the center have a flexible design, capable of a flat-floor configuration.
Officials said finding the right partnership would make the project’s cost more manageable. Roy said one option includes building a new facility in partnership with North Central Texas College (NCTC), which has a campus in Parker Square and has already expressed an interest in partnering with the town.
“It would be a great built-in partner where we each would have usage of the facility without full costs,” Roy said.
Roy said one thing to consider would be the two entities possibly having different ideas for the center.
The study identified other entities that could partner with the town to some extent, such as Midwestern State University (MSU), also in Parker Square, as well as Lewisville ISD, Rojas School of Music and the Cross Timbers Artist Guild.
Councilman Jim Engel supported exploring partnerships.
“I thought the partnership aspect was very intriguing,” Engel said. “I like exploring those, whether it be the county, NCTC or any other entity … a corporate entity as a partnership. I was amazed by the number of partnerships (the firm) came up with, even one 40 miles away being interested in a facility for that many people. But I’m scared to death of the $30 million nut to crack.”
Officials said there could be an option to partner with Centurion American, the developer at The River Walk at Central Park. Town Manager Jimmy Stathatos said Centurion American has expressed interest in amending its site plan for its proposed 3,000-seat amphitheater. He said those changes will be brought before the Town Council.
“It might be the opportunity to say, ‘If we’re changing it anyway what changes might meet the needs of a joint use-type setup,” Stathatos said.
Roy said another option Webb Management Services suggested is to revamp an existing building in the town and turn it into a fine arts center since it would be less expensive than building a new facility.
Roy said the problem is finding a facility in the town 60,000 square feet or more.
“We would like to look at adaptive reuse,” Roy said. “But our problem in Flower Mound is that that may not be an option.”
With partnerships likely the key to make a facility happen, the council gave the go ahead for the firm to begin the second phase of its study. That includes a business plan to determine things such as funds needed and partnership opportunities.
The second phase will cost $26,000. The town already spent $28,000 on the first phase.
Whichever option the town pursues, there is some state money available. Sen. Jane Nelson previously earmarked $5 million for the town’s fine arts center, but it must be used by September of 2021.
Roy said there are short-term options to build interest in the arts community before constructing a facility. Those include expanding the town’s festival offerings, grow the public art program to activate public spaces, strengthen the philanthropic culture through seminars and educations sessions and use empty storefronts with pop-up galleries and program space.