Carrollwood Cultural Center lauded at grand opening party

By Amber Mobley, Times Staff Writer
Published February 15, 2008

TAMPA - It was fitting that the Carrollwood Cultural Center would hold its grand opening on Valentine's Day.

For nearly 10 years county commissioners and the nonprofit Friends of the Carrollwood Cultural Center have been in an intimate relationship regarding the center - an affair with ups and downs.

Ups include an ambitious offering of classes, exhibits, recitals and theatrical performances at the center at 4537 Lowell Road in Carrollwood, "the first of its kind in Hillsborough County," said Commissioner Ken Hagan, who was on hand at Thursday's ceremony.

The downs have been mostly monetary. An austere budget blocked the hiring of a staff until the Friends took over management. The $7.9-million building, financed with community investment tax dollars, was originally slated to cost about half that, but construction costs rose.

The county approved the project in 2002 and funded it the following year. The center was originally set to open in December 2006, then postponed to late 2007.

Commissioners on Thursday acknowledged the costs and delays. But, like a doting beau, they reflected on the center's beauty and promise.

"In the next 30 years what a great, great time it's going to be in this northwest community," said Commissioner Jim Norman.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe called the center invaluable "in helping us raise our children."

Commissioner Brian Blair said he was grateful to be standing on the grounds.

Hagan added, "I'm here looking at the fact that dreams can become reality. It's something everyone in this entire community should come to see."

Amber Mobley can be reached at amobley@sptimes.com or 813 269-5311.

About the center

Readers in northern Hillsborough County can see an in-depth story about the Carrollwood Cultural Center in today's North of Tampa section.

The article is also available online at hillsborough.tampabay.com.

For information about classes and events, the facilities or membership to the Friends of the Carrollwood Cultural Center, visit the Web site carrollwoodcenter.org or call (813) 269-1310.