Report: $29 million still needed for new downtown library

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The downtown Central Library construction project is still in need of $29 million of private donations, according to a report delivered to some City Council members Wednesday.

Library supporters raised more than $152 million from various sources for Phase I of the project, which broke ground last June, and now are working to acquire the $32.5 million necessary for Phase II, according to the report given to the council's Rules, Open Government, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Of that Phase II amount, $3.5 million has already been pledged, leaving $29 million still to be raised, said longtime area businessman Mel Katz of the San Diego Library Foundation.

The nine-story main library, in the East Village near Petco Park, will replace the antiquated three-level facility on E Street.

Library backers have lined up six potential $20 million donors — who would receive naming rights for the building — and seven $10 million donors — who would get to name the entrance, foyer and lobby, Katz said.

“These are 13 people in San Diego who have a history of giving $10 million or more in San Diego,” said Katz, who did not reveal the names of the prospects.

He said the numbers of prospective donors left him “optimistic” that the funds will be raised.

Judith Harris, also of the foundation, said Phase II of construction is scheduled to begin next January. The project was on schedule, with opening set for summer, 2013, she said.

Private donations amounted to more than $32 million for Phase I of construction, including a $20 million donor who has not asked for naming rights, Katz said.

The Centre City Development Corp. — the city's downtown redevelopment arm — contributed $80 million, the state librarian added $20 million and the San Diego Unified School District chipped in $20 million in exchange for two floors to locate a charter school.

Katz said smaller donations will be accepted later to pay for things like benches and courtyard pavers.

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