RALEIGH — If all had gone according to plan, the Gregg Museum of Art & Design’s expansion would be almost fully funded now.
The N.C. State University museum is about $1.4 million short of the $9.2 million required to create its new home. Gregg management was hoping for some help from Wake County, in the form of a $1 million grant from the county’s hotel tax fund.
But last week, the Gregg’s request was denied on a 4-3 party-line vote, with all four Republican commissioners on the Wake County board voting no. At the same meeting, commissioners approved a total of $6 million for a pair of sports-related projects in Knightdale and Morrisville.
“We respect the board’s dedication to sports,” said Christina Menges, development director for Arts NC State. “But we had hoped to open their eyes to the building blocks of education, creativity and cultural exposure.”
N.C. State has committed $3.6 million to the project, with the rest to come from donations and grants. Museum director Roger Manley said that Gregg management was “not hanging every hat on that rack,” referring to the Wake County grant.
But the commissioners’ no vote leaves the project with some fundraising ground to make up with ground-breaking scheduled for early next year.
“We’re still on course to start construction in February or March,” said Menges.
Once started, construction should take around 18 months. It will add 16,000 square feet of gallery space to the historic chancellor’s residence, just east of the Memorial Belltower on Hillsborough Street.
The project has been in the works for close to a decade, since not long after N.C. State announced plans to build a new chancellor’s residence on Centennial Campus. While awaiting its new space at the old residence, the Gregg was displaced from its former Talley Student Center space last year and is currently a “museum without walls” that holds exhibitions in other spaces around the area.
Part of the Gregg’s pitch to Wake County was that the new space will be able to generate revenue as well as hotel business from rentals for weddings and other events. But the board’s majority was unmoved.
In the meantime, the project’s price tag continues to go up even before construction gets started. The current $9.2 million figure is nearly $1 million more than the project was estimated to cost in December 2013.
“That’s because of increased construction costs, which continue to rise,” said Menges. “Building costs, they are what they are, so we have to fold projected increases into the total amount. We’re keeping our fingers crossed it doesn’t go higher.”
Menconi: 919-829-4759 or www.newsobserver.com/OnTheBeat