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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Regents OK museum expansion

    FLAGSTAFF – The Arizona Board of Regents approved a proposal that will allocate an additional home for the Arizona State Museumi n the downtown Rio Nuevo beautification project.

    During their meeting yesterday, the regents OK’d the plan, which will house the museum south of West Cushing Street on West Clearwater Drive, in an area that will be known as the “”central plaza.””

    The museum will be close to the UA Science Center and the Arizona Historical Society, also located within Rio Nuevo, said Beth Grindell, associate director of the Arizona State Museum.

    The approval from the board of regents is only the first step in a lengthy process which includes a final proposal to the board within the next year, Grindell said.

    “”We now have about a year to work out the funding plan with the university and city planning, to estimate the final amount of money needed,”” Grindell said.

    The estimated cost of construction is about $62.1 million.

    Although the museum is a state museum, state funding will play a small role in the museum expansion, President Robert Shelton said.

    The UA will cover the cost primarily through fundraisers, which will generate private dollars, the issuance of bonds and Tax Increment Funds, Shelton said.

    Tax Increment Funds are created as the city matches the sales taxes of all items sold within the Rio Nuevo district dollar for dollar, according to the city’s Web site.

    Within 10 years, TIF funds should provide about $124 million toward the downtown renovation project.

    Regent Dennis DeConcini said that while the expansion will add to Rio Nuevo, it might detract money that could be spent elsewhere.

    “”The expansion will add to the prestige of the university and of Tucson,”” DeConcini said. “”However, the museum is a state asset, and so should be state funded.””

    Although that chance is slim, Grindell said the museum still hopes state money will be allotted in conjunction with UA and city money.

    But to be safe, the museum will apply within the next year to receive the full $62.1 million from TIF money in hopes that it will receive at least partial funding, Grindell said.

    The larger facility will benefit K-12 students who will use the facility as a learning tool, said Shelton. The facility could also offer UA students internships and work possibilities, Grindell said.

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