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Is the Solar Oasis a Mirage?

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What's more, Case figures the committee will have to round up about $4 million from the private sector anyway. He says donors have been "identified," but they haven't handed over any cash yet.

He also needs to identify a restaurateur who has the roughly $650,000 it will take to finish off the inside of the Solar Oasis restaurant.

Despite all these hassles, Case says, "We're not having difficulties, there are no roadblocks." Even so, the money for the oasis probably won't be in the bank for another year, according to a tentative timetable prepared by Case's committee. It says all the funding won't be "in place" until April 1990 and schedules groundbreaking for the next month. The tentative completion date: June 1991.

All this tentativeness and schedule changing has the Phoenix Symphony and other Civic Plaza tenants a bit addled. They'd like to know just when the construction is going to start, because they'd like to notify their patrons about things like the parking garage being ripped out for a year. Or to warn people that for three months, the Civic Plaza deck will be torn up all the way to the front steps of Symphony Hall. "On behalf of all the arts organizations, we need to know as soon as possible when they're going to start," says Dick Conti, who directs the symphony. "It all sounds exciting as hell, but the bottom line is they don't have a timetable yet. We were once told it was going to start the day after the Grand Prix.

"The project will happen," he predicts a bit wearily. "But when it's going to start and how long it's going to take depends on when they get the money.

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Terry Greene