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          Front Page


Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Fund-Raisers Well on Way to $56 Million

By John W. Flores
Journal Staff Writer
    The race to generate cash for construction of the $56 million National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico remains at full-throttle for members of Albuquerque's Hispanic Culture Foundation.
    "At this point, there's a lot of stuff in the mill that I can't tell you (about the donors) because it's all proprietary," said Edward Lujan, who heads the foundation's fund-raising efforts.
    "What I can tell you is that things are going very well. And at this point we do have signed commitments of about $7.5 million," he said. "The other thing is we feel fairly confident that we will get to our goal of the $20 million by the end of the year."
    The foundation, established in 1983 to preserve New Mexico's Hispanic arts and humanities, is engaged in an effort to raise about $20 million from private sources on an international scale, said its executive director, Teresa Trujeque.
    "We are looking at statewide, national and international companies," Trujeque said, noting that Intel, the mammoth computer-chip manufacturer, has already donated $2 million.
    Other identified donors include Bill Gates, who gave $200,000; and McDonald's Corp., which gave $500,000.
    The names of many private givers are being withheld pending completion of the project, Lujan said.
    Groundbreaking occurred in 1999, and construction is expected to take up to two more years.
    "But we are in the final stages," Trujeque said.
    When it is completed, the center will be the only one of its kind in the nation.
    In July 1999, the U.S. Senate approved the expenditure of $1.5 million toward construction costs of the center, located at Fourth and Bridge SW. That funding is now available, according to U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.
    That pledge raises the ante from the U.S. government. So far, $18 million in federal funding has been pledged for the project. The New Mexico Legislature also has authorized $18 million for the first portion of the two-phase construction effort. (Phase I has two parts.)
    We "are probably going to ask the state for more money. A good third of the project will probably come from private funding," Trujeque said.
    The structure is being built by Telstar Construction Co. of Albuquerque.
    In addition, $2.3 million for additional parking is being sought under a general obligation bond issue under consideration by the Legislature, Lujan said.
    "Presently, there are 283 parking spaces, but that won't be enough. We'll have to have a lot more than that by the time the construction is completed," Lujan said.
    Loretta Armenta, , Center board member, said the center is a godsend for the old Barelas area as well as for the nation.
    "I think people are very ecstatic, in terms of what this means for the community and the nation," Armenta said. "It's long overdue."