Loann Crane makes $2M donation to Upper Arlington’s community center project
A recent donation from Loann Crane has put a private fundraising campaign well on its way to raising 10% of costs for the $54 million construction of Upper Arlington’s first community center.
The Upper Arlington Community Center Capital Campaign Committee announced Aug. 9 it had received a $2 million gift from Crane.
According to committee co-chair Margie Pizzuti, it is the first substantial donation toward the goal of raising at least $5.4 million in private funds toward construction of a community center at Kingsdale Shopping Center. Pizzuti said the campaign’s progress would be updated in September or October.
It also will further cement the legacy of Crane’s late husband, Robert “Bob” S. Crane Jr., who held leadership positions with United Way of Central Ohio, First Community Church, Franklin University, Battelle Memorial Institute, the Paul Duke Foundation and the Ingram Foundation. He also built Columbus-based Crane Plastics with his father, Bob Sr., and brother, Jim.
Pizzuti said the community center will bear Bob Crane Jr.’s name as a result of the “game-changing, generous commitment.”
“The city has agreed and supports the naming of the community in honor of Bob Crane,” Pizzuti said. “Those details for the precise naming are yet to be worked out.”
According to information provided by the committee, Bob Crane Jr., who died in 1992, was raised in a home on Stanford Road, but during the Great Depression, his family was forced to move to an apartment at the corner of Arlington Avenue and Guilford Road.
When his parents couldn’t afford a tennis racket to nurture his interest in the sport, a family friend gave him one.
The gesture fueled Crane’s passion for the sport – one of four in which he earned varsity letters at Upper Arlington High School before graduating in 1940 – and served as an inspiration for the couple’s philanthropy.
“This donation reflects our commitment to lead by example and I hope it will prompt others in this community to follow with their financial support of this long-awaited and much-needed community center,” Loann Crane said in a statement issued by the committee. “Bob loved this community and loved sports.
“He would have been proud to see this legacy continue for generations of Upper Arlington families.”
Pizzuti said the committee will continue to work with city officials on the name of the community center and possible recognition of Bob Crane Jr. and his life inside the facility.
She said she expects naming-rights opportunities will be available for numerous spaces at the community center, including its gymnasiums, swimming pools, event spaces and meeting rooms.
“We are confident there will be other naming opportunities inside the building and we’re optimistic we’ll be successful in securing the other gifts,” Pizzuti said. “There are families and individuals in this community who want to come forward and support this facility.”
The city is issuing $55 million in bonds to construct a 95,300-square-foot facility after voters approved an advisory question on the May ballot asking if the city should build a community center. The $55 million is the maximum amount the city will borrow for the project and includes the privately raised funds, the dedicated city cash reserves and room for construction contingencies.
“It has not been determined whether we will actually borrow the privately raised funds and other dedicated city cash reserves, and then use the amounts to repay the bonds or just reduce the borrowing amount and use the privately raised funds and dedicated city cash reserves as ‘cash,'” said Brent Lewis, Upper Arlington finance director. “This will be determined when we get closer to issuing the bonds.”
The project will be included among three buildings Continental Real Estate Cos. will develop at the former Macy’s site at Kingsdale. Work is expected to begin next year and be completed sometime in 2024, according to Emma Speight, Upper Arlington’s community-affairs director.
Following the announcement of the Crane donation, Upper Arlington City Council President Brendan King said the gift is the latest example of the community support behind a facility he believes will serve people of all ages.
“Mrs. Crane’s exceedingly meaningful donation reflects the importance of our city’s partnership with community stakeholders, who believe this intergenerational gathering place will bring our community together and serve as a symbol of what makes Upper Arlington such a special place to live, work and play,” he said.
Donations to the UA Community Center Capital Campaign can be made through the Upper Arlington Community Foundation at uacommunityfoundation.com/.