By Jason Epperson
Lyric Opera announced today that the company has closed the acquisition of the Richard J. Stern Opera Center, which was financed in part with $10.5 million in federal funding. The company now owns the facility debt-free.
In June of 2011, Lyric received the tax credit allocation from AltCap (formerly KCMO CDE) in support of the Company’s then-new center at 18th & Charlotte Streets in East Crossroads. It was the first arts organization in Kansas City (and is believed to be the first in the country) to receive such an allocation from the New Markets Tax Credit, a federal program created to finance high impact investments in low-income communities. AltCap, a local community development financial institution, has been awarded $203 million from the program since 2008, which it has used to help create jobs through the financing of businesses and catalytic real estate development projects throughout Kansas City.
“AltCap is proud to have played a role in supporting this catalytic investment by the Lyric Opera”, said Ruben Alonso III, president. “In the seven years since we completed the financing, the project has helped to support the growth and development of a long-standing, community arts organization while stimulating significant additional investment in the area.”
The Richard J. Stern Opera Center consists of a Production Arts building and an Administrative building with scenery rental inventory storage. The Production Arts facility houses a rehearsal space that matches the footprint of the stage of the Muriel Kauffman Theatre at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts as well as a full wig, costume and set construction shop. The company also provides facilities for educational and community outreach programs in the building. Other companies, such as Kansas City Repertory Theatre and Kansas City Ballet, have also benefited from utilizing the facility.
CEO and General Director Deborah Sandler said that “the success of this project is not only a testament of this community’s support of the Lyric Opera, but of the vitality of the arts in Kansas City. The decision to locate our Opera Center in the East Crossroads was a prescient leap of faith. Since that time, we have witnessed an explosion of activity, commerce and economic growth around us; this project has accomplished precisely what it was meant to do. Internally, the creation of the Opera Center has allowed us to create work and keep pace along with the world-class Kauffman Center. Externally, it has served as a catalyst for neighborhood development. This project has made that possible, and it would not have been possible without the support and dedication of many people and organizations.”