Springfield, MO

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Gillioz moves a fifth of the way toward fundraising goal

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The Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust is pushing toward its Dec. 31 deadline to save the Gillioz Theatre from foreclosure and, so far, has had a thorough response from the community, officials say.

When the trust - which owns the Gillioz and the adjacent Netters Building - held a news conference Dec. 15 to lay out its fundraising goals to pay off its $3.5 million debt to Guaranty Bank, it engaged the community to donate $500,000 to $750,000. Since then, the "Save the Gillioz" fund has garnered nearly $100,000 from community donors.

Michael Owens, director of theater operations, said via e-mail that 133 gifts have been received for $22,440, as well as a $75,000 pledge, for a total of $97,440.

Dave Roling, Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust president, said the $75,000 donor wished to remain anonymous, but he did say that the donor consists of a composite of a business and associated family members.

As to the still anonymous benefactor that has pledged a more than $1 million donation to aid the theater, Roling said the trust is continuing to honor the donor's anonymity request. He did, however, say that the mystery donor is a business entity, rather than a single individual.

Roling said the community has been quick to get involved with the fund, a necessity for the trust's swiftly coming deadline. The community involvement has been gratifying, he said.

"I am just amazed at the diversity of the gifts in terms of small to large," Roling said.

Community Foundation of the Ozarks, which is facilitating donations for the Gillioz, also has been in discussion about aiding the trust, said Louise Whall Knauer, CFO senior vice president of communications and marketing.

CFO could potentially decide to provide what Knauer called a mission-related investment initiative, a low-interest loan designed to help projects leverage other resources or close financing gaps.

Knauer indicated that the Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust might apply for a loan if it gets down to the last $200,000 to $250,000 needed to ward off foreclosure.

"It's a community asset that obviously is going to have to pull together multiple financing sources to get out of the financial problem that it's having," Knauer said. "It's the type of project that could possibly be a good fit for our mission-related investment."

A CFO committee would need to review the proposal if the trust does decide to engage CFO help, but Knauer said its loan process typically has a quick turnaround.

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