Major prospective donors courted by library fundraisers

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The leader of the fundraising effort for the new Central Library in the East Village said this week that two potential multimillion- dollar donors have taken tours of the site and could be ready to pledge funds soon.

“We're talking to a $20 million donor who is talking about (putting) their name on the library,” Mel Katz of the San Diego Public Library Foundation told members of the City Council's Rules Committee. “We're talking to a $10 million donor who is interested in the courtyard.”

Katz said feedback from the prospective donors after the tours has been “fantastic,” and he is “optimistic” that he will be able to announce the major donations when he updates the committee again in three months.

The donations would be for Phase II of construction, which includes the interior and an auditorium, scheduled to begin in January.

So far, the foundation has raised $4.8 million of the $32.5 million required for the second phase. That's $1.3 million higher than the last fundraising report in March.

The city is trying to pay for the project without general fund contributions. If fundraising comes up short for Phase II in the next six months, work on the library would be halted until the goal is reached, Katz said.

In Phase I of construction, which dealt with the building's exterior, framing and infrastructure, the foundation raised $32.4 million in private funds, including $20 million from a donor who wished to go unnamed. Private backers have also chipped in $10 million for library operations once it opens.

Additionally, the Centre City Development Corp. — the city's downtown redevelopment arm — paid $80 million toward construction, and the state librarian and San Diego Unified School District kicked in $20 million each. A charter school overseen by the district will occupy two floors of the nine- story building.

Katz said the building will be far more than a library. With the auditorium, it will also be a community, meeting and cultural center, he said.

“It's on time, under budget, and scheduled to open in July 2013,” Katz said.

Categories: KUSI