PALM COAST — Palm Coast Arts Foundation officials aren't modest about how they see a groundbreaking Thursday.

“Come to the biggest groundbreaking event in Flagler County history!” urges the Foundation's flier, a call-out for residents to attend a ceremony to mark the beginning of a project that will level, grade, landscape and irrigate five acres in Town Center, then plant a roofed outdoor stage on them.

Nancy Crouch, the foundation's executive director, said the $400,000 project has been years in the making and will kick off a much larger, multi-phased project that eventually could total more than $67 million.

A rendering of the project shows a large, lush lolling area in Town Center, full of green grass and defined by borders of trees. The wedge-shaped space is helmed by the stage.

"We hope to have the first phase completed by our signature event — (May's) Picnic and Pops with the Jacksonville Symphony," Crouch said. "It's a big, huge deal. We sell out every single chair and table we have and now we have a much bigger space to fill."

That means crews have until April to finish the job.

"It will be freshly sodded and it has to sit for a few weeks," Crouch said. "We're kind of on pins and needles, but we have a backup plan."

She said the Picnic and Pops, for which 40 tables for 10 have already been claimed, will inaugurate the stage.

Beau Falgout, administrative coordinator for the City of Palm Coast, said officials "are excited about the groundbreaking of the phased Palm Coast Arts Foundation project."

He said the public-private partnership — the city leases 14 acres in Town Center to the foundation — is making the project a reality and could help Palm Coast grow.

"This project, along with our existing art groups and cultural facilities, will not only provide art and cultural opportunities for our existing residents, but will help in attracting visitors and future residents to Palm Coast," he wrote in an email.

Preparing a 5-acre outdoor venue site is phase one of a project to construct an arts foundation park, with progressively bigger construction projects. Installing and roofing the outdoor stage is phase two. 

Phase three is when things begin to get more ambitious. It's to feature a 19,000-square-foot events center with a full-sized catering kitchen, "hopefully for someone who wants to take up residency there," she said.

The cost? About $7 million. Crouch has lots of confidence in the project.

"We already have people in the area who want to rent space and it hasn't even been built yet," she said.

Meanwhile, foundation members are seeking grants and planning private fundraisers.

"We've got another grant pending with the state," she said. "We should hear about it soon."

It depends on fundraising, but Crouch hopes to begin phase three in four years.

Phase four could take up to 10 years, but the payoff is a $60-million performing arts center.

Crouch said the master plan calls for 2,200 seats for the center, three stages and an area for art galleries.

“By then we will have lots of practice (fundraising and getting grants)," she said. "And there's all kind of naming opportunities out there. If people want to put their name on something, it's available. We have had some corporate proposals.”

More information, including a virtual tour of the project, is available online at palmcoastartsfoundation.com

Watch the video here! https://vimeo.com/126547285