Friday, September 15, 2017

Aztec Theater Plan - Not a Good Deal for Shawnee

At the 9/5/17 Council Committee a plan was presented to revitalize the Aztec Theater.  Complete information can be found by clicking here to read the agenda with the supporting documentation.

The memorandum for this was authored by the city manager, Carol Gonzales, and, IMHO is disingenuous, to say the least.

The basics of the plan are that three individuals would invest a total Of $100, 000 and then obtain a loan for $150,000 to purchase the property.  They are asking the city to kick in $500,000 from the Economic Development Fund to handle all rehab and renovation.  As pointed out by Councilmember Dan Pflumm, in theory, the investors could sell the property, make a profit and the city is out the $500K.  Councilmember Meyer was also not happy with the percentages, plus additional rehab expenses appeared not to have been included in their estimates  folks who attempted to compare this with the B&B project were reminded that the owners there kicked in $4.9 million.

I personally find this part of Ms. Gonzales' memorandum to be a bunch of bureaucratic double talk:

Much time and energy has been invested in analyzing the performance of other similar theaters currently in operations to determine the financial viability of the Aztec Theater. It is believed that the Aztec Theater can be 100% self-supporting with careful planning, programming and management, but not with the nearly $500,000 cost of building rehabilitation and renovation cost estimates.

That is almost like saying the adult child and their spouse after moving back in with their parents could be self supporting if they didn't have to pay rent, utilities etc.

Additionally, I find this part of her memorandum to be close to "bait and switch".  Something you'd expect from a used care salesman, not city staff:

This type of structure would be similar to other programs funded in the Economic Development Fund. Because of the debt load that the EDF is taking on related to Nieman Now! fund balances in the future forecast show as diminishing. As was discussed in the 2018 Budget process, staff recommends moving Nieman Now! debt payments over into the Debt Fund as it becomes feasible. That frees up more fund capacity in the Economic Development Fund to continue to take on new projects.

Yours truly spoke at the session and IMHO that the only acceptable solution(s) would be:
a.  The investors substantially increase their investment.
b.  They invite other investors to kick in so as to substantially increase the investment amount
c.  They create a "Friends of _________" just like other artsy projects have done all across the country.
d. Any combination of the above

It would be nice if that eyesore was repurposed, but not at the expense of the taxpayers.