COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- It's been eight months since a new nonprofit group proposed turning the historic and underused City Auditorium building into a major hub for arts, culture, music and education.
The Community Cultural Collective has raised $5 million in donations so far, with nearly $3 million more pledged by the city and El Paso County, and applications filed for state and federal money available from pandemic recovery funding.
Plans call for tripling the auditorium's usable space and renovating it to allow cultural groups to relocate offices there or rent space for projects, performances and other events.
Organizers said that the chances of obtaining state and federal funds is promising, and that they have a goal of raising the rest of the $60 million by early next year.
"What we hear is nothing like this exists yet in our state," said Linda Weise, the collective's president and CEO. "So let's get it done, let's do it to the best of our ability, and make it another reason why people want to come to Colorado -- or better yet, Colorado Springs."
A design firm and construction company have already agreed to work on the project, pending remaining donations and City Council approval.
Organizers said that if approved, the city would transfer ownership of the auditorium to the CCC, but the city would reserve the right to retain ownership under certain conditions.
The auditorium opened in 1923 and has been largely closed since the pandemic began, used only as a COVID recovery center for the homeless.
In the past, the grand old building hosted roller derbies, shows and other special events, and was the site of an annual Thanksgiving dinner for the needy.
The CCC said that the the murals painted inside the front lobby in 1934, the Wurlitzer pipe organ and the Lon Chaney theater will remain at the auditorium or be moved to other interior locations.
A committee is assessing the auditorium to determine which items may have historical significance and must remain.
Many people aren't aware that a shooting gallery used to be in the auditorium's basement.