BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
— TRAVERSE CITY — Now it appears costs to renovate and outfit the Con Foster Museum into a movie house for the Traverse City Film Festival will come in well under $1 million.
That number conflicts with a $1.5 million budget figure for the new Bijou by the Bay that was announced this week by the festival's communications staff and its executive director, Deb Lake. That number was incorrect, said Michael Moore, Film Festival board president and one of its founders.
The project's budget and fundraising goal instead is $800,000 to open by July 29, and Moore said he doesn't expect a wish list of extra amenities that could be added over the next few years to top $150,000.
"Clearly there was a misunderstanding here and Deb sent you the wrong number," Moore said. "I'm just going to attribute it to the excessive global warming we are experiencing this week and I promise to hydrate the volunteers better."
Moore said he has no idea where the $1.5 million budget number originated and found the whole thing "odd." He said Lake has about 10,000 things she's doing right now in preparation for the festival.
Lake told the Record-Eagle in an interview the budget reached $1.5 million and later confirmed the figure in an email as the festival's fundraising goal.
Lake apologized Friday for the confusion. She said the $1.5 million figure included some ancillary, future program ideas that are not part of the Bijou's construction.
Moore wasn't the only board member caught off-guard.
"I was surprised to see that number written in the paper since I'm the (board) treasurer," said John Robert Williams. "But I'm not involved in the day-to-day operations."
Construction contractor Thom Darga ran into several surprises when crews began work on the vacant Clinch Park building in early June, including rotten roof trusses and asbestos in the ceiling. Darga said subcontractors donated items and services to keep the project a few dollars under budget.
Moore said the extra amenities they'd like to add over the next two or three years are mostly aesthetics — stage curtains around the movie screen, lighting effects and landscaping. Moore said he can't imagine those items costing more than $150,000.
"Seriously, our fundraising goal and budget remains at $800,000, and if anything, I think we can come in under that," Moore said. "I'm a very conservative person and always feel we can do more for less."