The city of Hollywood, Fla., has been building a performing arts park – which its mayor called the most important project in the city’s history – since 2002, but it doesn’t look like there will be a stage for anyone to perform on.
Arts Park began modestly, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, but has grown into an elaborate blueprint with sweeping walkways, buildings, geometric shapes and a lighted fountain. At its heart is supposed to be an amphitheatre, with 500 seats and a 2,000-capacity lawn, that for some reason now costs an estimated $14 million.
But the money has run out and there’s nothing left to add the central venue to the surrounding Arts Park. According to the paper, city leaders knew the coffers were bare three years ago but continued to make elaborate changes to the park design while keeping cost estimates from the public.
Arts Park was originally budgeted at $17.7 million, including the amphitheatre, but the current estimate is now $32.5 million, records reportedly show. In December 2004, the city said it had nearly $6 million for the amphitheatre, but city manager Cameron Benson recently admitted to the Sun-Sentinel that it only existed on paper and was based on hopes that Broward County would kick in some cash.
Aerial photography shows the park, which is surrounded by a roundabout, has a section carved out and ready for an amphitheatre.
Benson told the paper he became upset as plans grew more elaborate and decided to divide construction into phases, starting with the park itself, then roadway improvements, then the visual arts building – and the amphitheatre was put on hold.
"If Cameron hadn’t decided to do everything in phases, there would be no Arts Park at all today," Jitendra Patel, Hollywood’s director of design and construction, told the paper. "The whole thing would have died because we didn’t have enough money. … That decision saved the park."