$70 million Sugar Land Performing Arts Center possible in April 2013

By Elsa Maxey

There is a public/private partnership agreement in place for a 6,500-seat concert and performing arts facility in Sugar Land. As proposed in a letter of intent there will be planning services, a schematic design and cost estimates for an indoor facility on a 21-acre site at U.S. 59 and University Boulevard. This area is for mixed-use development that includes commercial, office and entertainment land use. To the south of the proposed city concert facility, Fluor Daniel, which recently announced the purchase of 50 acres, is proposing a campus for a new facility, according to city spokesperson Doug Adolph.

Last week, the Sugar Land Development Corporation and the Sugar Land City Council approved a Letter of Intent with ACE Sugar Land, LLC, for the development of the future concert and performing arts facility. Sugar Land’s Economic Development Director Regina Morales said the city conducted a market analysis and feasibility study in 2008, and updated in 2012 leading to the purchase of the 21 acres.

The terms of the letter of intent with ACE SL LLC include a 25-year term lease for an operator of the concert facility estimated to cost $70 million. The project is expected to be completed by April 30, 2013, and its schematics are planned for a wrap up in the next six months while working on the development and lease agreement.

Morales said that a total of five destination venues are projected for the city, and “the ball park is completed,” noting that there are more to come, like the proposed concert/performing arts venue. In 2007, a citizen-appointed task force identified entertainment venues to develop Sugar Land as a destination location. The list of top priorities includes a professional minor league baseball park, Constellation Field which opened this past April, an outdoor festival site and an indoor concert venue. The development of the venues was approved by voters in a November 2008 referendum.

Mayor James Thompson said that ACE had been instrumental with the ball park project and that a similar process would be involved with the performing arts venue as with the ball park. “We will look for a strong partner,” said Mayor Thompson, “these are long term partnerships,” and “that’s probably the most important element of this whole project.”

According to the city, the community benefits of the project are for promoting economic development, employment and educational opportunities, and for the general welfare and prosperity of the citizens. The project effort underway is taking place through Sugar Land Development Corporation, which has approved funding for the design of the project.

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