Construction of New Albany's community amphitheater is expected to begin this summer.

Craig Mohre, president of the New Albany Community Foundation, said plans are to break ground in late June or July. The architecture firm for the amphitheater is DLR Group Westlake Reed Leskosky, and the construction firm is Corna Kokosing Construction Co., he said.

Construction would take a year, but it remains unclear whether the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic could affect the supply chain and construction, Mohre said.

"There are a lot of unknowns," he said.

Mohre said he is unsure whether a summer season of events at the amphitheater would commence in 2021.

The amphitheater will be built on land owned by the New Albany-Plain Local School District and leased to the city. The lease, signed last August for $10, has a 50-year term, said city spokesman Scott McAfee.

It will be adjacent to the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts at 100 W. Dublin-Granville Road and will share its address, according to Mohre.

The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts will manage programming at the amphitheater; CAPA has been involved in the management of the McCoy Center since 2013.

Planning and fundraising for the amphitheater started in 2016. In recognition of the Hinson family's early $500,000 donation toward the project, the venue will be named the Charleen & Charles Hinson Amphitheater, according to Mohre.

Although the estimated cost for the amphitheater initially was $8 million, through changes in design, the foundation was able to reduce the cost to $6.85 million, Mohre said.

"So that's good," he said.

The design changes included eliminating the box office, shifting from a tiered lawn with big steps to a sloped lawn, losing some rails and fencing and reducing the size of the exedra, Mohre said. The exedra is a semicircular colonnade, he said.

The New Albany Architectural Review Board on May 11 approved a certificate of appropriateness for the development modifications for the amphitheater, said Matt Shull, New Albany City Council's ARB liaison.

Shull said he thought the changes didn't take away from the amphitheater's plans.

"I was very supportive of the modifications," he said.

Combined with the McCoy Center and Rose Run Park across Dublin-Granville Road, the amphitheater will be a good way to support culture and the arts, Shull said.

The amphitheater has been part of New Albany's strategic plan for the past 20 years, Shull said.

"I'm happy to see that it's finally taking shape," he said.

Although the community foundation had been fundraising for the amphitheater, after the pandemic began, it shifted its focus, forming the COVID-19 Assistance Fund to help the New Albany Food Pantry, the school district, the Well-Being Connection, Form5 Prosthetics Inc. and local robotics teams, Mohre said.

The community foundation raised more than $5.6 million for the amphitheater, Mohre said. Part of that total includes a $1 million gift from the city of New Albany, he said.

The foundation also will obtain a $1.4 million loan to fund the project, Mohre said.

The community foundation had planned a benefit event for additional fundraising, but it was canceled because of the pandemic, Mohre said. He said he hopes the community can regain normalcy and have a public opportunity for people to donate.

"But right now, we're focused on COVID," he said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah