LAUDERHILL — Plans for a gospel center that would be a major tourist attraction for the music industry have been placed on hold due to the recession.
The Gospel Complex for Education & Preservation was slated to be a 90,000-square-foot facility on the corner of State Road 7 and Sunrise Boulevard in Lauderhill.
It was slated for completion in late 2011. But failed efforts to raise the $4.5 million needed for the complex’s 10-acre land purchase, architectural drawings, renderings and subsequent ground-breaking have placed the project on an indefinite standstill.
The complex’s board of directors has pushed the $45 million project’s timeline for completion back “until the economy improves and the appropriate developer has been identified,” said Albert Tucker, vice president of multicultural business development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The decision, Tucker said, came after “much deliberation and discussion.” He added that the “complex’s financial situation needs to be secured.”
The complex has received “verbally committed” support over the past four years, Tucker said, “but with respect to having the actual hard cash on the table to move the project forward, it has not come to the table the way that we need it.”
Tucker also cited the complex’s inability to find a developer “with the same passion for the project as the board of directors.”
The project will still be completed, Tucker said, because “the reality is there is no home for gospel music.”
He continued: “It’s not a situation that if the work is not completed within a certain time frame, it would have to shut down. It’s merely putting the local levels of interest together with the appropriate teams, and moving it forward.”
The facility’s plans include an arts and education facility, recording studios, a living museum and stores, a conference center and banquet facilities.
Of its 10 acres, five are designated for the complex and its ancillary shops, and five for mixed use, according to Tucker.
Gospel Complex board member Art Kennedy told reporters recently that the campaign to sell $75 bricks, and appeals to churches and organizations did not succeed. He said that $250,000 would have “gotten this project going down the road.”
Kennedy also told reporters that he is “frustrated” with the community’s response, and that federal and state monies would be available for the project, “but the community has not contributed its fair share.”
Kennedy also serves as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings.
Currently, Tucker said, the board does not want to continue collecting funds without being certain that the project will move forward at this time.
“So right now, we are working with local developers and potential investors,” he said. “We are reevaluating to see how and when the project will move forward.”
Lauderhill Mayor Richard J. Kaplan said the redevelopment of the State Road 7/U.S. 441 corridor will be slowed because of the complex’s construction hiatus, “but we are supportive of the project and hope they will soon be able to move ahead.”
Tucker said he is currently working with the complex’s board and “other locals” to find the “best way to make this happen.”
Photo: Gospel Complex for Education & Preservation rendering