Saturday, August 25, 2012

Theater Memo of Understanding

It seems like a century ago we bought the Highland Park Theater after 100's of  hours of meetings with business leaders, citizens, theater and marketing professionals, and in depth talks with Writers Theater moving into the space. Then the recession hit .  .  .  .  . Now several years later the theater is now closed, dark, unused, and a current blister on the greatest Central Business District on the North Shore. 

About a year ago Our NEW City Council put out an Request for Proposal to redevelop this property so that it again could be a contributing part of our great downtown. The market is showing signs of improvement and there is interest from a company called Alcyon, LLC to revitalize the theater property into a 500-600 seat mixed-media theater and mixed use development. The development includes a 45 unit leed gold residential and 10k commercial use component along with the NEW Alcyon Theater. Funding would include folding back some of the tax money from the proposed development back into the project costs.

The City Council will be voting on a MOU to give this developer an exclusive right for six months to propose a development on this property. The property is the HP theater and the lot to the East. The plan is to build a multi deck parking structure on the North side of Central. Along with parking within the new structure, the entire project will not only replace the parking where the development would go, but proposes adding 90 spaces.

Now understand this is just a proposal and not a done deal. The City Council will be vetting this proposal through our commission process which will include many public meetings prior to any final action from the City Council. We also have engaged Gruen Gruen & Assoc. to analyze the economics of the proposal before we get started in earnest.

I am very excited about this project and to work with these folks to bring the Highland Park Theater back to life, providing more living alternatives in our CBD, and adding to the economic engine that imports tax dollars from outside our city to REDUCE our property tax burden.

Remember, over the past 20 years we have grown our sales tax revenues (many $$$'s from outside HP) almost two fold while lowering our City Tax rate by about 50%.  We have done that by investing in our business community and cultivating the entertainment/restaurant culture we now see thriving in our downtown and I am excited to add to that mix. I am sure there will be many different opinions as we move forward and get the facts.
HOPEFULLY all good stuff from this new proposal for our community