From the perspective of an elected official the Chateau process has been frustrating. I support maintaining a historic theater in our downtown. We don’t have immediate plans and more importantly immediate funding to restore the theater to a full performing arts center. This would cost about $20 million beyond the immediate repairs that we are currently doing. Is there a rule that says communities have to have a historic theater? Nope, but it is my opinion the we will be a more vibrant community with it. Similar to why I support Parks & the Library.
An important part of getting this done will be to find the right private partner. There are a number of ways that this will open up tax credits to fund up to half of the renovation costs. There is a movement to just have the city sell the Chateau Theatre. I do not support this.
At present we wanted to find a way to temporarily activate the building both day and night. We had a total of 5 proposals of which 3 were passed on to the city council. In the end I supported all 3 proposals but had my preference. The Arts Trust of Minnesota group.
Staff recommended the Exhibits Display Group and their rational was solid, the had the best combination of experience, financial wherewithal and day & night activation. There goal is to average 500 visitors a day at a $12 ticket. I am skeptical of this, but if it happens, great. I suspect I will go see some of the exhibits. One of them they mentioned was “Mythbusters” and I would be all over that. The issue is that they are only rotating exhibits every 3 months so this really speaks more to our visitor population.
The third proposal was from the Entourage Events Group. Going into the process I had hoped that this would be the winner. I liked their Armory proposal and contacted a local group to see if they would be putting in an application. I would love to get more of the kind of shows they do in Rochester. That said the proposal had a couple of flaws. Too much reliance on private events that were similar to other proposals. Lastly there was little activation during the day and only 28% of events were slated to be public. I don’t think we have heard the last from EEG as we are putting out a facility catering contract for Mayo Civic Center, which is right up their alley.
I supported the ATOM group for a number of reasons. I feel the arts community in downtown Rochester has been too exclusive for many of our local artists and groups. The would have had something going on in the building almost all the time. I hope we can find some space for them. We really shouldn’t have the amount of dead space in downtown as we do. Where might they find space? Maybe as a partner with with a future MCC operator. I suggested the building that houses Legends. Though that building may be too expensive to get up to code. Many larger buildings downtown lack an activated presence. Lastly, in terms of the community, which I was listening to, there were many people pushing in this direction. It is actually OK to take chances, and even, gasp, fail.
I was happy I was able to cast a vote in favor of the ATOM proposal, but I was also happy that we selected someone who will activate the space for the next 3 to 5 years.