Miami Rotary Club President Marcia Johnson issued a challenge to area clubs and civic organizations as she recently presented a $5,000 check to the Miami Downtown Redevelopment Authority and Friends of the Coleman.

The donation was made in support of the effort to raise funds to finish George L. Coleman’s dream of a grand ballroom.

“I hope this award will be a challenge to other clubs and civic groups in the Miami area to become involved in this one of a kind project in the four-state area.”

Rotarian of the Day Willie Osborn and chairman of the Miami Downtown Redevelopment Authority, introducing the program presenters to club members and guests said “The fun things that are going on in Miami are happening at the Coleman.   The people of our town are exceptional; if you give them an opportunity, they will rise to the occasion.” 

Sarah Jane Johnson, speaking as Ballroom Campaign Drive Director and as a MDRA Board member, reported on the status of the fund drive. She said, “We are at 76 percent of the total needed for the project to go to bid.  To date $1,200,000 has been pledged.” 

Barbara Smith, co-executive director of the Coleman, provided club members an update on the current status of the architectural plans.

“The 5,000-square-foott ballroom and accompanying gathering area, restrooms, catering kitchen, and entry have met all the guidelines needed for Historic Preservation projects and should be ready to go to bid by late spring of 2009, with construction completed in 2010,” Smith said. “The Coleman Ballroom will be a very real investment in the positioning of downtown Miami to thrive and grow.  Theater-goers from out-of-town make up about 65 to 70 percent of the audience for many events.  These people come to town, eat at our restaurants, buy gas here and some spend the night in our motels.  As we build, our ability to host conferences and other types of events will grow and our downtown will continue to rebuild.”

Club President Marcia Johnson, at the conclusion of the club meeting said, “I hope this cash gift will inspire other civic organizations or groups in our area to want to be remembered as community supporters by matching all or part of this award.”

Groups wishing to pledge or obtain additional information, including a personal, live presentation by Smith and Johnson regarding the ballroom project, can contact Barbara Smith at 540-2425 or 542-5180 for scheduling