Orchestra Reports Raising $10 Million For Hall

Posted: June 25, 1988

The Philadelphia Orchestra has raised about $10 million toward its goal of $103 million for a new concert hall, additional endowment and restoration of the Academy of Music, according to William P. Drake, orchestra board chairman.

"We feel we are about on schedule in this very quiet phase of fund- raising," said Drake, after a board meeting Thursday in the orchestra's Academy House offices. "We have been doing this within the board and the companies they represent. We discover there are a lot of firms that have never participated in other projects at the level they are participating in this one, and that makes us feel encouraged."

During the meeting, architect Robert Venturi showed sketches of his proposed designs for the new hall. Although plans are still in the preliminary stage, Venturi said the exterior of the building would "be compatible with the Academy of Music. Like the Academy of Music, it will probably be mostly of brick and cut stone."

The proposed hall will be built on land on the south side of Spruce Street, between Broad and 15th Streets, and will cost an estimated $83 million. It is scheduled for completion in 1992. Renovation of the Academy of Music will follow.

Progress on the project now awaits completion of land acquisition. The orchestra owns about 60 percent of the site and is seeking to acquire the remainder through condemnation proceedings. The city Planning Commission last month voted to certify the site as blighted, a step required before condemnation proceedings can begin.

Such proceedings must be introduced in City Council, then go through a series of public hearings before Council can act. Drake said that if the plan could be introduced at Council's meeting next week - its last of the present term - it can be brought to hearings when Council reconvenes in September.

Negotiations with the owners of the remaining parcels seemingly have reached a stalemate, although, according to Drake, "we're ready to negotiate if they come up with an offer." The owners have proposed building parking garages, a high-rise office building and retail stores in conjunction with the hall, but the orchestra board has said those developments would be incompatible with the hall and the space it needs.

Drake said that the board was working with Councilman John Street, in whose district the hall is to be built, to try to get the condemnation procedure under way.

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