Music Hall is one step closer to a major renovation after receiving big gifts from local philanthropists announced May 1.
A $10 million donation by American Financial Group and Edyth Linder, wife of AFG founder Carl Linder Jr., brings Music Hall within $10 million of the $125 million required for the interior renovations. Also helping get closer to the goal, businessman Harry Fath and his wife Linda have pledged to boost their donation toward the renovation project from $2 million to $4 million.
“My husband, Carl, and I have shared many wonderful memories of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Pops Orchestra in Music Hall,” Lindner said in a statement about the announcement. “With the restoration of this beautiful building, future Cincinnatians can develop their own memories.”
The historic Cincinnati landmark, built in 1878, hasn’t seen major renewal efforts in 40 years and needs interior updates to its acoustics and seating, among other work.
The recent donations are big news for the building, which was cut last summer from a proposed sales tax increase that is currently funding renovation work on Union Terminal in the West End.
Originally, Cincinnati’s Cultural Facilities Task Force, led by business and community leaders, suggested bundling renovations to both buildings, representing hundreds of millions of dollars, into the quarter-cent sales tax hike. Republican county commissioners Greg Hartmann and Chris Monzel nixed that idea, however, choosing a shorter-term tax hike to renovate Union Terminal alone.
Music Hall has gotten some good news since. In December last year, the state of Ohio awarded Music Hall $25 million in state historic tax credits.
The building beat out two other historic preservation projects from Cleveland and one from Akron. State officials cited the building’s potential to spur economic development in Over-the-Rhine and beyond as a reason for awarding the tax credits.
The city of Cincinnati has pledged $10 million toward the effort and the state of Ohio has pitched in another $5 million. In addition to recent donations, other private donors have pledged $40 million toward the renovation.
If all funds are raised soon, construction could begin as early as this fall and wrap up in about two years.