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Donors pledge $30 million toward new downtown library

By JOE BRITTON

City News Service

Donors who have pledged more than $30 million toward the construction of a new central library gathered Friday at the construction site in downtown’s East Village to urge the City Council to approve the $184.9 million project next week.

The largest donation was made by Irwin Jacobs, the co-founder and former chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc., and his wife, Joan, who contributed $20 million for the new central library project.

“I think this is a very exciting day for San Diego,” Irwin Jacobs said. “I think this building, this library, the school within the library, are going to be a spectacular addition to our city and one that we can all be very proud of.”

The Jacobs were joined by Mayor Jerry Sanders and about a dozen other contributors and supporters of the new central library across the street from the site where it will be built, at 330 Park Blvd.

Sanders described the project as “critical to the health of San Diego’s public library system.”

The San Diego City Council will consider whether to approve the new central library at its meeting Monday.

If the council greenlights the project, work will begin Aug. 1. Construction must begin by then to meet a deadline for a state grant.

To date, $152.4 million of the $184.9 million cost of the library has been identified.

Of that amount, $30.8 million has been raised from private donations, $20 million will come from the state grant and the San Diego Unified School District has agreed to put in $20 million to lease two floors of the library for a charter high school.

Redevelopment funds will cover about $80 million of the cost and an additional $1.6 million will come from other sources.

An additional $10 million has been donated for the operation of the library once it opens.

That leaves $32.5 million that the San Diego Public Library Foundation must raise to complete the project.

“I personally am very confident that once we break ground on this project the foundation will raise the funds needed,” Sanders said. “Many San Diegans that have both the means and the desire to contribute have stayed on the sidelines because of the project’s uncertainty.”

Designs for the new central library were completed 13 years ago.

Other major contributors to the new central library include:

  • The San Diego Foundation Hervey Family Funds, $2 million;
  • Helen K. and James S. Copley Foundation, $2 million;
  • Katie and Dan Sullivan, $1.1 million;
  • Estate of Marcia and Armando de Peralta, $1.1 million;
  • Frances Hamilton White, $1 million;
  • Amy and Horacio Valeiras, $600,000;
  • Estate of Kathryn Neal, $547,000;
  • Mary H. Clark, $500,000; and
  • Marilyn and Gene Marx, $500,000.

Additionally, 57 anonymous donors have contributed $6.5 million.