By Lindsay Carey
The Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA) reached its fundraising goal and secured a lease for the old Gura Building, which it will renovate and turn into a community arts center. In 18 months, the arts group was able to raise $1,113,000 and will now lease the Gura Building for a $1 a year.
The Town Council voted unanimously in favor of the lease at its meeting Monday night.
“We reached the goal,” said SCCA Chair Mary DeCroce. “The impossible became possible, which is very encouraging to me and to a lot of people in town.”
Mat Florian, of Florian Properties will help SCCA with the renovations. DeCroce said Florian was the right choice.
“When we started this project one of our goals was to find a local builder who we knew we could trust” said DeCroce. “We know that [Mat] is someone that we can rely upon because he’s done several projects of the same square footage with additions and elevators, renovations all throughout the downtown area, so I don’t think we could have got a more perfect partnership for this project.”
Florian will renovate the building for $1,271,850, 80 percent of which the SCCA raised through varous fundraising efforts.
Vice Chair Cheryl Lounsbury commended DeCroce on her hard work in raising the money and said she looks forward to seeing project commence.
“Great job, I take my hat off to you, you really have gone above and beyond and the support from the community is outstanding,” said DeCroce. “Thank you Mat for stepping up, we’re proud to have you do it.”
Town Councilor and SCCA board member Dawn Miceli said that she was also astounded by the community support.
“It’s so terrific the wide swath that has been covered by the SCCA in terms of the civic groups that are involved,” said Miceli.
DeCroce said that the SCCA received $100,000 in monetary pledges from almost every civic group in the community. She mentioned groups like the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, UNICO, and the Sons of Italy among many other donors.
“Anybody that could give anything gave something,” said DeCroce. “Some people that have pledged are putting names on roofs in honor of family members that have passed that loved the arts, so it’s really an incredible community. It’s a community building.”
DeCroce said that the SCCA secured another 60,000 in cash through fundraising and separate donors.
The $500,000 grant that the SCCA received requires the building to remain an arts facility for ten years and the understanding is that this will be of no cost to the town.
When questioned by Councilor Stephanie Urillo about how the facility will be maintained financially speaking, DeCroce said that the studio space that they lease will cover 50 percent of the expenses. Beyond that, classes and events at the art center will cover the rest.
According to DeCroce, the SCCA has already found people who are interesting in leasing space at the art center.
“I have over 12 letters of people who want to lease studios,” said DeCroce.
In addition, the owner of Jerry’s Artarama would also like to sell art supplies there, DeCroce said.
DeCroce also mentioned a few donations of goods and services that have come in, specifically a “paint out weekend” orchestrated by Mark Adams with Southington Painting.
When the building is ready, Adams will bring builders from all over New England and the SCCA will get them hotels and feed them for the weekend as they take care of the painting. According to DeCroce, this service is worth $32,000.
Miceli also took the time to praise DeCroce individually, regarding her as the “go to person for arts” in Southington.
“It’s not just about creative expressionism in regards to art,” said Miceli during the meeting. “Now she’s getting into the economic development of our town… You are a fabulous woman and a gem to this community.”