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APAC Vision for Performing Arts Center

By Michael Buss, 2017-05-25

Followers of the march towards to the building of a magnificent new arts center  in Anaheim were not disappointed with the public discussion held on May 10 at the Anaheim Central Library.  A smaller discussion was held at Sunkist Library the previous week. These discussions were termed charrettes – “meetings in which stakeholders attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions.”

The following is the text of the slides presented by Dr. Howard Knohl, President of the newly re-formed Board of Trustees. (I have numbered the headings for ease of reference – Ed.)



The purpose of these discussions was:

  • To provide the general public with a short introduction to the Anaheim Performing Arts Center Foundation  (APACF), and our mission to build a world-class Performing Arts Center in Anaheim.
  • For the general public to discuss potential approaches to developing the property, and discuss possible redesign or rehabilitation of the property.

2.Background (multiple slides)

2007: Presented the concept of a Performing Arts Center to the Anaheim City Council.

Resulted in Anaheim Performing Arts Center Foundation being established an incorporated as a 501(c)(3) Non Profit Organization in September of 2007.

2008-2010: Began site search in conjunction with the City of Anaheim’s Redevelopment Department.

2011-2103: Determined the Heritage Forum (now the River Arena) as a possible venue

  • Developed preliminary architectural plans
  • Made quantifiable bid on the property, which was ultimately sold to a church
  • Continued to investigate possible venues

2014: City of Anaheim voted for a resolution supporting APAC Foundation’s efforts to build a Performing Arts Center in Anaheim on the site of the current City National Grove of Anaheim.

2015: The City of Anaheim commissioned AMS Planning and Research Consulting Services to conduct a feasibility study to determine if Anaheim and the contiguous area would support a Performing Arts Center

3.The Anaheim Performing Arts Center

Will consist of:

  • 1,800 seat full proscenium theater
  • 2,000 seat concert hall
  • 600-800 seat black box theater
  • Museum with art gallery
  • 5 star dining options
  • Event facilities
  • Educational facilities
  • + much more

4.Current Status of Project

We are beginning the process of interviewing and hiring the following:

  • Architectural firms specializing n cultural, civic and/or performing arts centers
  • Project Management firms for pre-project planning and analysis, budgeting and delivery assessments
  • Capital Campaign Consultants to help us raise funds needed to see this project through to completion
  • Theatre Design Consultants

Dr. Knohl thoroughly elaborated on item 3, the components of the new PAC, after which he introduced Mr. Zoltan Pali from SPF Architects. The website is worth a visit. Zoltan Pali has been responsible for some of the most prestigious designs for arts facilities anywhere in the United States.


We must stress at this point that the images presented by Zoltan are possibly NOT what the final design will look like. These are CONCEPT drawings and renderings. Their enormous value to the public is to convey solid representations of the grandeur and beauty of what the PAC will look like. Many of the concept features may well be realized. Here is a summary:

There will be a campus of arts buildings rather than one huge building.

Parking will be at present ground level, with the entire complex 20 to 30 feet above the parking level. Effectively, it is a beautifully landscaped elevated plaza on which the four main buildings are set. Smaller restaurants and open air spaces are dotted around the place. This will be a place for communities to meet and ticket holders to relax before and after shows. Here will be weddings and bar-mitzvahs; public festivities, and film festivals to rival Tribeca and Sundance.

The main buildings will be sheathed in glass, surmounted by solar panels which will generate all the power for normal usage, though not necessarily for full, stage performances.

In the center of the campus will be a spectacular high, twisting, glass tower, on top of which will be a viewing deck (over most of Orange County) and a bar! The lower parts of the tower will accommodate museums, art galleries, education spaces, administrative offices, etc.

Possibly a further elevated concourse will link the main centers at theatre entrance levels.

The development is projected to be a phases, such that the new concert hall and main auditorium will be built and in use before the City National Grove building is removed. This will mean that ongoing programs presented at the Grove will continue – located in a new building.

If you were to drive round the current 11.85 acre plot you would see that the area for this PAC is huge. There will be new vehicle access off Katella directly into the covered parking lot – able to hold up to 2,000 cars. Landscaping will bring hundreds of trees (with their  shade) into the currently very sparse lot. Rail travellers from Los Angeles and San Diego will be able to walk along the platform (as Angels fans do now) right into the main arts concourse. Great care will be taken not to prejudice the value of housing and commercial spaces nearby. The Center will be larger than the Segerstrom Arts Center in Costa Mesa!


Dr. Knohl floated a figure of $400 million for the build. It would seem to a mere mortal like me that since it will cost half a billion just to repair the damaged spillway from the Oroville dam (which nearly collapsed a few months ago) – so this amazing PAC may creep into the half billion region.

The time for the charrettes was short - 60 minutes and it was all over. There was not time to delve into anything other than the almost magical prospects of the huge pride that will come to Anaheim, hosting what Dr. Knohl called the finest Performing Arts Center anywhere in the world! Anaheim will lead the nation as a city of the Arts.

Let’s add a few more details that were not part of the two presentations.

APACF is in constant contact with city planners as the project develops, but there are certain milestones that must be met. These include positive proof of fundraising.

  • By March 2018, either by bank statements, or contractually binding commitments of funds, APACF must raise at least $20 million.
  • The following year, 2019,  $50 million of the total.
  • By March 2020, 80 percent of the total project development costs must be raised.
  • By June 2020 – 100% of the money. If the total is in the region of $400 million this will be a huge assignment.

During this time the city of Anaheim is committed NOT to enter into negotiations with any other party to attempt a competing scheme.

You may read the Agreement with the City here.

Staff Report

ERN Agreement 

Arts Council submission to the City of Anaheim

The following is an extract from “Arts and the City” – a policy document submitted to the City of Anaheim for its budget process:

Anaheim Performing Arts Center

  1. The successful building of a Performing Arts Center will bring great financial benefit to the City and truly elevate Anaheim to being the City of the Arts.
  2. Doubts persist as to whether Anaheim Performing Arts Center Foundation could ever raise the likely half billion price tab within the designated timeframe, but we commend the city for its vision and determination to work with APACF over the four year ENA period
  3. There are those who question whether so much should be spent on a prestige performing arts center, or the City make the land available so cheaply while other needs in Anaheim are so great.
  4. It should be noted, however, that major construction projects – whether they be roads, hotels, convention centers, or whatever – generally proceed with the calculus that the investment also brings benefits to communities with the facilities and jobs they provide; and revenue to the City. There is no reason why a state of the art Performing Arts Center should be any different. Provided that planning and (very stringent) fund-raising requirements can be met this center will be Anaheim’s jewel in the crown.



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