Dunedin Fine Art Center preparing to again break ground

DUNEDIN - More expansion is on the horizon for one of the cultural hubs of North Pinellas.

The Dunedin Fine Art Center has entered into contractual agreements with designers and builders of the third phase of the facility's four-part renovation and expansion campaign, "Expanding Creative Visions."

Phase III work entails adding four brand new studios and a gallery, as well as renovating the cafe, gift shop and administrative offices.

More than 3,600 square feet of the center will be renovated during construction and in excess of 7,300 square feet will be added. That addition will increase the size of the art center at 1143 Michigan Blvd. by nearly a quarter, to 31,000 square feet.

No specific ground-breaking date has been set yet, but it is tentatively pegged for some time next month.

In a July 3 press release, Ken Hannon, the DFAC associate executive director, pegged the cost of Phase III at $2.9 million. The Phase IV work overlaps with that of Phase III and will add another estimated $600,000, he said.

The project is funded primarily through private donations, along with city funding of $500,000 and a matching grant of the same amount from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

Phase IV will add six studios on the second floor within the 7,300-plus-square-foot Phase III addition.

The expansion project, which began in September 2010, is projected to reach completion next May. The first phase primarily involved the relocation of the David L. Mason Children's Art Museum. Phase II added two studios.

Once construction begins there will be periodic closures of certain segments of the center, but shutdowns will be mitigated as much as possible, Hannon said.

"We are phasing it in to keep as much open as we can," he said Monday afternoon. "We're trying to have as little an impact as possible."

The center's board president, Charles Klein, was quoted in the press release expressing his appreciation for the people who supported the entire project.

"I think this speaks strongly to the important role DFAC plays in the community," he said. "And also to the faith that the community places in the future of the organization."