SFCC Theatre for the Performing Arts Gets Grand Reception
Searchlights, a red carpet, tuxedoed presenters, and a live performance all conjure up images of Academy Awards night. But the VIP Grand Opening and Dedication on Feb. 27 was even more special to South Florida Community College’s community. It was the first of two events planned to celebrate the completion of the SFCC Theatre for the Performing Arts. The second event was a community open house that was held the following day.
“What do you think?” asked David Leidel, chair, SFCC Board of Trustees, during the formal ceremony. “Is this not one impressive fine arts facility, or what?”
The transformation of the SFCC Auditorium, located on the Highlands Campus, into the SFCC Theatre for the Performing Arts began in April 2009 and was completed in February 2010. SFCC administrators and staff worked closely with STH Architectural Group and Mathews Construction on the building renovation.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Leidel expressed gratitude to members of the audience for helping to “bless our community with an asset that will undoubtedly enhance the lives of our citizens.” He commended Dr. Norm Stephens, president, SFCC, for his vision and leadership: “Your desire to provide the finest facilities and educational experience to those who walk on our compasses is demonstrated by this building that we are enjoying tonight.” Finally, he thanked those who labored to complete the task: “You have created a beautiful building that is worth much more than walls, seats, and a stage. Your work is something that we will surely enjoy for years to come.”
“Our long-term goal was to improve the patron experience in our theatre,” said Dr. Norm Stephens, SFCC president, speaking of the renovation of the former SFCC Auditorium into a state-of-the-art facility. “The project reminded me of faith, hope, and charity. The SFCC Board of Trustees had faith in the college’s administrative team, allowing us to go forward with such an ambitious project. The administrative team and all of us at the college had hope that we could get it accomplished and deliver as successful a project and as wonderful a facility as possible. And, finally, it was the love of the community and its support that made it all possible.”
Bill Hanser, president, STH Architectural Group, related that throughout the renovation of the SFCC Auditorium, he thought of the project as building a ship in a bottle. “We had to renovate the interior within the envelope of the existing shell. But this project was much more than a renovation, it was a complete redesign of the interior of the building.”
David Oellerich, vice president and general manager, Mathews Construction, complimented the SFCC team. “We’ve worked across Florida on many projects at institutions that are well recognizable,” he said. “For all the people we’ve worked for around the state, we’ve not found any better place to work than with SFCC. It’s due to the professional-level management of your projects, particularly Dr. Stephens, Glenn Little, and R.L. Geiger. It truly doesn’t get any better than that. If we had a choice of where we’d want to work, SFCC would be our choice.”
“Literally, thousands of people worked on this project,” Dr. Stephens said. He thanked state officials, such as Rep. Denise Grimsley, who supported the building project, as well as the Florida Legislature for providing the funds for the project. The college’s many team leaders were lauded, including Glenn Little, vice president for business affairs, and his team. He noted the SFCC Foundation for its support of the funding. Recognizing the former SFCC trustees, he said, “I’ve had the pleasure to work with them, and they were the early vision of this project.” He acknowledged Dr. Catherine P. Cornelius, SFCC president emerita, “for her vision and for starting the performance series 25 years ago.”
Speaking about the STH Architectural Group, Dr. Stephens said, “We worked with Bill Hanser, and Brad Garvin, who was the project manager during the construction phase of the theatre renovation, and their group on the Health and Science Education Center. The development of that facility and the theatre were two exciting efforts during my career that I’m honored to have been part of.”
Dr. Stephens mentioned that the theatre renovation was the third project, along with the Health and Science Education Center and Building F, that the college worked on in conjunction with Matthews Construction. He thanked Oellerich and Frank Hughes, the superintendent, as well as Mark Stohs, who served as superintendent at the beginning of the project.
This magical evening concluded with 40-minute performance by singer and pianist Paul Saik.
We imagined…and it became a reality.
The ribbon is cut on the SFCC Theatre for the Performing Arts by (left) Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr., SFCC president, Richard Maenpaa, SFCC trustee, Lisa and Bill Jarrett, capital campaign chairs, Tami Cullens, SFCC trustee, Bill Hanser, president, STH Architectural Group, Denise Grimsley, District 77 state representative, Anne Reynolds, SFCC trustee, David Oellerich, vice president and general manager, Mathews Construction, and trustees Tim Backer, David Leidel, Gary Delatorre, and Dr. Louis Kirschner.