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Sunday, Sep 21, 2014
Politics

Art museum lands $805,000 from distressed-areas fund

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— The Tampa Museum of Art has landed $805,000 under a federal program created to rebuild economically distressed areas.

Museum officials had sought $850,000 from the Florida New Markets Development Program, which offers tax breaks to banks that lend money to organizations in targeted areas. After seven years, the loan is forgiven.

“The proceeds of the transaction will enable our cultural icon in Tampa to further expand our visual arts mission throughout the community,” Todd Smith, the art museum’s executive director, said in a statement.

Smith added that the museum “has been able to secure a level of newfound fiscal health.”

The museum will use the money to pay off some short-term debt, hire new workers and bring in new exhibits.

The Florida Aquarium used the same program to secure $1 million toward its $15 million “Rising Tides” expansion project.

The art museum asked the Tampa City Council in April for permission to use its 50-year lease of city land on the north side of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park as collateral for the loan.

The Glazer Children’s Museum, which sits next to the art museum, was also built with help the same tax-credit financing.

Those previous projects were approved when federal officials were still using 2000 Census figures to estimate the income for the areas where the projects are located.

Back then, downtown Tampa had a median income of less than $12,000. About half its 600 residents lived in the Morgan Street Jail. Today, the median income is just over $56,000 and several thousand people live in high-rise apartments and condos.

kwiatrowski@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7871

Twitter: @kwiatrowskiTBO

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