LAUDERHILL — The Gospel Complex for Education & Preservation is scheduled to be completed in late 2011.
But even before its groundbreaking, efforts to finance the $45 million complex must be aggressive, supporters say. The $4.5 million needed for the groundbreaking at State Road 7 and Sunrise Blvd. must be raised this year, said Albert Tucker, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau's vice president of multicultural business development.
Tucker made his statements at a press conference and local kickoff for the complex on Wednesday, Sept. 2.
"These monies are needed for the land purchase, architectural drawings and renderings," Tucker said. "And we intend to have it by December 31."
The 90,000-square-foot facility will 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.
"Traditional training within our school systems just does not work," Tucker said. "The complex is also about the arts and entertainment, not just gospel, although that is a large part."
Tucker added that the complex will create jobs, exposure and opportunity for youth.
A portion of the bids for the complex's construction will be awarded to minority contractors, Tucker said.
"That's one of the things that put us on hold in the beginning; one of our first concerns," he said.
At this time, no specific plans are in writing for minority participation, Tucker said, "but it has been a big topic of our discussions."
The complex, initially scheduled to be built in Fort Lauderdale, was seen by visionaries as one of the jewels of Sistrunk Boulevard. The complex, along with the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, would aid the distressed business corridor with jazz clubs and upscale soul food restaurants, according to that earlier vision.
When initial plans for the Sistrunk corridor fell through, the city of Lauderhill came to the rescue by making 10.2 acres available, Tucker said in a previous interview.
State Rep. Hazelle Rogers said at Wednesday's press conference that the complex project will "speak to the revenue generated along the State Road 7 corridor. That's important to more that just the city of Lauderhill. I want to see a resolution to all the cities in Broward County asking for support."
Tucker said he believes the complex will not only be a tourist attraction but will also bring new businesses to Lauderhill and its surrounding cities.
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings described the current financial climate as "recessionary," and said, "it is critical that we support the project. It's going to take a lot time, money and effort to make this happen. I am on board."
Samuel Morrison, a member of the complex's board, described the project as "worthy for Broward County."
Morrison, who is the visionary behind the African-American Research Library, said he was asked to join the board because of his successful fundraising efforts for the library.
"Nationally, they've been bringing people on board and supporting the project, but we've not been as successful locally. That's where our work will begin," he said.
To make a donation to the Gospel Complex for Education and Preservation, log onto gospelcomplex.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Gospel Complex, Inc., 10097 Cleary Blvd., Suite 284, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33324.
Photo: State Rep. Hazelle Rogers