Abilene City Council to mull $200k sculpture for Festival District

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene could be getting a $200,000 sculpture from a leading kinetic artist to be a focal point of the new downtown hotel and convention center that is yet to be built.

“I personally think it’s a good use of public funds,” said Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna. 

The Abilene Cultural Affairs Council was able to secure a $75,000 matching grant for a sculpture by Anthony Howe.

“It’s very lyrical, hypnotic in some ways,” said Lynn Barnett, executive director of Abilene Cultural Affairs Council. 

But in order to get the 20-foot sculpture to Abilene, they are asking the board of the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) for help.

“Which will help create a space for the public that’s inviting and keeps people downtown,” said Hanna. 

That is the goal of TIRZ, whose zone is just over 1,500 acres and takes a portion of property tax from within the zone and reinvests it back into the area. 

But why now, when the hotel hasn’t been built yet? Barnett says the grant does have time constraints.

“We may not have had this opportunity in a year, or two years, or three years, so you have to seize the moment and go with it,” said Barnett. 

While there are no firm dates on when construction will take place on the hotel, Hanna says this is something that can be done now. 

“We’re dotting our Is and crossing our Ts right now, and you complete the things that are in front of you when they can be completed,” said Hanna. 

Barnett says the sculpture does cost about $12,500 to ship, but an Abilene resident is wanting to partner with the city to cover the rest of the funding. 

“If all goes planned, we hope to see it October 22,” said Barnett. 

Barnett says there is minimal maintenance on the sculpture. 

TIRZ has used the funding to update facades of businesses and make cosmetic upgrades to downtown.

City council members will now decide whether to allocate the funds needed for the sculpture.

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