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Arts school on schedule

The steelwork is almost complete and the cash flow steady. If all goes as planned, the Dr. Pallavi Patel School for the Performing Arts should be finished this fall.

The four-story, 45,000-square-foot school is being built on the north side of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. It marks the first major addition to the center since it opened in 1987. It will house a variety of classes for adults and students, including voice, dance, screenwriting, stage lighting and set design.

The center kicked off a capital campaign in February 2002 with the goal of raising $30-million for the construction and the center's endowment fund. Increased building costs have since upped the goal to $31.8-million, said Shannon Conner, the center's public relations manager.

So far, fundraising efforts have raised $28.2-million, most of which came from individuals, Conner said. More than $90,000 has come from the seat naming campaign, which allowed donors to name seats for $1,000 to $2,500 each.

The center is still taking donations. Five dollars gets donors their names on stars that will hang in the education center during the dedication, which has not been scheduled. A contribution of $10,000 to $1-million buys naming rights to architectural features and rooms, such as the TECO Theater, which cost $1-million.

Kiran Patel and his wife, Pallavi Patel, a pediatrician, donated $5-million shortly after the campaign began.

Workers will soon begin fireproofing the structure and pouring the floor. The roof is expected to be in place by mid February with a completion date scheduled for sometime this fall.

_ Denise Watson Batts can be reached at 226-3401 or dbattssptimes.com.

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