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The Segerstrom family on Friday gave the county a Christmas present it promised a year ago. It announced it will transfer ownership of about six acres of former farmland–valued at $16 million–by the end of December for an expanded Costa Mesa cultural complex to be called Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
“We are making the gift of land . . . for the benefit of the people of Orange County, to provide an opportunity for cultural growth and enjoyment to the residents of the community and their descendants,” Henry Segerstrom said Friday.
The land, at the southwest corner of Town Center Drive and Avenue of the Arts, will be the site of an 1,800- to 2,000-seat concert hall, a 500-seat multipurpose auditorium, a new theater for South Coast Repertory and a visual arts facility.
The estimated cost of the two halls is $175 million to $200 million, center President Jerry E. Mandel said. South Coast Repertory, as well as any occupant of the visual arts facility, would pay its own construction costs, he said.
The Segerstrom family announced in December 1998 that it would donate about two acres once center officials had raised half the money needed to build the concert halls. The facilities will be built with private funds only.
The family now will give six acres, even though half the money has not yet been raised.
“Originally, only the land for the performing arts center was going to come to us,” Mandel said. “Now, all the land will come to us and we will sub-deed it to SCR and the visual arts facility.”
The Segerstrom family has agreed to the transfer, Mandel said, because “Henry has great faith in us and our ability to raise the money.”
“Until we had the land, it was seriously difficult to get a naming grant” for the new hall, he said. “We are working now with a number of potential lead donors, however.
“This is a good time to raise money. The economy is at a height, the stock market is setting records and Orange County is doing exceptionally well. . . . If we’re able to raise half the money in the next six months to a year, we would still be on target for a 2004 opening.”
As previously announced, the renowned Argentine architect Cesar Pelli will design the two halls. Pelli, who did the initial site plan, also will design SCR’s new theater.
Russell Johnson of New York has been hired as the acoustician for the concert hall. It will be used mostly by the Santa Ana-based Pacific Symphony but also by touring orchestras brought in by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and by the center itself.
“This will enable us to complete the dream of having an arts center for Orange County that will rival any in the country,” Mandel said.
“We will have our Lincoln Center, our Kennedy Center right here. Any night you will be able to go to any one of four or five or six performances.”