By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — With the end of the year fast approaching the Belknap Economic Development Council is putting together the final elements of the $14.6 million financial package to restore and renovate the Colonial Theatre.
Randy Eifert, president of the council, said Monday that the capital campaign to raise at least $2 million from private sources, including corporations, foundations and individuals, represents the outstanding piece of the puzzle. He said that $1.3 million, or 65 percent of the original goal, has been collected and that he expects to reach the goal, but hopes to top that target by raising at least another $700,000.
Eifert acknowledged that because some costs have exceeded initial estimates, the scope of the project may be trimmed to meet the budget. In particular, he said that plans to fit the auditorium with the projection equipment and sound system to show movies, at an estimated cost of nearly $200,000, will depend on the success of the capital campaign and generosity of private donors.
"We want to have a state-of-the-art, fully restored, multi-use facility," Eifert said, adding that the alternative could be to undertake portions of the project in phases.
The project will be financed with some $4.7 million in New Markets Tax Credits and $2.4 million in Historic Tax Credits, both federal programs providing tax credits to investors in return for their investment in civic projects. The New Hampshire Community Development Investment Program has contributed $520,000. Grants from the New Hampshire Community Development Block Program, the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and the Brownfields Program administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency have yet to be awarded. The city has loaned the Belknap Economic Development $3 million for the project.
Eifert said that with all the other pieces falling into place, the focus is on meeting or exceeding the $2 million goal of the campaign.
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