A lead fundraiser for San Diego’s new downtown library said he’s “very, very optimistic” the city will receive the remaining $25.5 million in private money it needs to finish construction by a Dec. 31 deadline.

Mel Katz, chairman of the San Diego Public Library Foundation, said he expects Mayor Jerry Sanders will announce donors at his annual State of the City speech next month.

“Unless a donor wants a separate announcement beforehand, we’ll probably wait until the mayor’s State of the City address on Jan. 11 for any major announcement,” Katz said.

Assuming the Library Foundation raises the money, city leaders will receive a big reward for the big risk they took when they approved the $185 million project in June 2010. At the time, the city needed $32.5 million to finish construction. The Library Foundation pledged to raise the amount through private donations by the end of this year. Without the private money, the city would have to delay the project or find another way to pay for it.

The city is using downtown redevelopment money, a state grant, school district funds and private donations to pay for the new library. Two floors will house a charter school. An inability to raise the private funds had previously set the project back for years.

As recently as September, the Library Foundation remained $25.5 million short of their goal. But Katz said at the time that fundraisers were closing in on one or two major donors that would cover the full amount.

Katz revealed few details on the final pledges. But he did confirm that the Library Foundation was securing “one or two” large gifts and the donations were coming from individuals, not corporations.

Katz added that the library remains on-time and under budget. It’s scheduled to open in summer 2013.

“People are going to be amazed a year and a half from now at what this looks like,” he said.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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