Former Publix Could Become A Public Arts Venue

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TALLAHASSEE, Fl -- Lori Roberts has big plans for empty space. Roberts is a co-chair of a citizens work group that is looking to breathe fresh air into the arts culture of Florida's capital city. They're looking to revamp an empty lot at Northwoods Center in Tallahassee.

"We're going to create it to where you can see arts going on so the community can come in, they maybe are here for a business meeting, but they get to see dancers walking through or artists creating art," said Roberts.

The acoustics and the space seemed like the right amount to pursue a black box theater, but when they committee found out that it would only seat 250 people they decided to go a different direction for the 55 thousand square feet of space that used to house a Publix supermarket.

The issue now will be finding the money to make the project happen.

"They're trying to determine what the construction costs in addition to what operating expenses are. The charge that they've gotten from us is that we don't have a lot of money and operationally we'd need to find a way to make this thing break even," said Tallahassee city commissioner Gil Ziffer.

Roberts believes the project could be self-sustaining through lease options to retail and non-profits. A small amount of the $54 million needed for the proposed Performing Arts Center could be the answer for getting the ball rolling. The P.A.C.'s board said they are willing to provide money for projects like the one being proposed at Northwoods Center.

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