Local News

Art Gallery Eyes Briggs Building

Posted November 5, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— The private City Gallery of Contemporary Art will ask the Raleigh City Council today to help it purchase the vacant, historic Briggs Hardware building on Fayetteville Street Mall. Mayor Tom Fetzer says he doesn't see the council coming through with the $750,000 sought.

The mayor listed arguments against the funding: the city's great expense in cleaning up after Hurricane Fran, the gallery's recent rejection of the city's offer to include the gallery in the city-owned Artspace building, and other possibilities for Briggs building use such as offices, apartments or shops.

The City Couincil cut the subsidy of the City Gallery in half this summer. Gallery Executive Director Denise Dickens said she hopes the council will regard the request as "an investment in downtown revitalization and the arts. It's bigger than just an arts project."

Fetzer says the gallery should go to the private sector for funding, since he sees the request as a capital campaign.

Dickens said banks want a city commitment before they will lend the gallery money for the $2 million project. The gallery has a Dec. 1 deadline to exercise its option to buy the three-story, red brick building for $445,000. Then, renovation of the 122-year-old building could run to $1.5 million. Tentative plans call for a cafe, museum shop and theater or exhibit space on the first floor. More exhibit space could be on the second floor, with offices on the third.

In addition to help with purchase and renovation, the gallery board wants the city to keep contributing to an annual operating subsidy and program grant that totats $83,000 for at least five more years. After that, the gallery might support itself entirely, the group says.