officials are to complete a feasibility study about whether fundraising $16 million is a realistic, achieveable goal and report the results back to council in December.
The request for the study came after City Manager Pete Dame reviewed a report and analysis completed by city employees on the proposal by Grosse Pointe Theatre for a 40,000 square-foot live performance theater and cultural arts center to be located in the Village.
The project, according to Dame's report to city council, would require the following from the city:
- another multi-level parking structure in addition to what already exists
- placing all utility lines underground
- converting the the existing alley into a more peditrian friendly area that would still allow delivery vehicles
The initial cost, not including maintenance and longterm care, would be more than $6 million for the city. Grosse Pointe Theatre is willing to put about $2.6 million toward that $6 million-plus, Dame said.
Currently, the theatre does not have the finances to start such a project and no fundraising campaign is underway. The theatre is asking to have an exclusive deal with the City to reserve the space where they intend to build until they can raise the money, he said to council.
An additional factor Dame told the council to consider is the status of the Grosse Pointe Theatre. As a non-profit organization, they would not contribute to the tax revenue for the city or for the Downtown Development Authority as a private business would, Dame said.
After his report, council members asked questions of both Dame and Grosse Pointe Theatre Executive Director Marcia Scavarda.
Councilwoman Jean Weipert said she has several concerns, including reaching an exclusive agreement with the theater when the financing may never come through for the project. She describe the property as prime real estate and while the council is not entertaining other development there, in two or three years time, something could come up.
Counciman Chris Boettcher said he is concerned about the impact of such a facility on the pubilc safety department as well as the lack of taxes it would contribute.
Most of the council also voiced concerns about the theatre's ability to fundraise $16 million for the project as well as its own financial state, which is tight and expected to grow tighter for the next fiscal year.
Scavarda told the council the theatre has to be just as careful in this project as the city, if not more so, to protect its own image and to ensure the organization is able to continue providing quality performances to its fan base and the community.
Don Adzigian, on the theatre's board of directors and the chairman for the new building, asked council to also consider the positive reasons to allow such a project. He said the theatre brings in about 20,000 people, which would be a boom to the Village business district.
He also said the organization wants to bring in other live performances that could be enjoyed by the community to use it as a cultural arts center, not just a performance location for the theatre itself.
When asked, Adzigian said he had been talking with the other Pointes, explaining Grosse Pointe Woods officials have been expressing a great interest in the project but they do not have land to offer. However, they did offer the name of a potential land donor, he said.
Ultimately, the council voted to table the decision until the December council meeting when they've asked Scavarda to report back on the results of the feasibility study. She said by then she should easily be able to know whether raising $16 million is an achievable goal.
In voting to table the decision until the feasibiity study is complete, Weipert and Scrace wanted to make it clear to the representatives from the Theatre that the project is not necessarily gaining approval if the feasiability study shows fundraising won't be a problem. The project still must be considered in addition to the City's own position, Weipert said.
Originally, the council was going to have to make a decision between the Grosse Pointe Theatre proposal and . Emagine, however, after that will still draw from the Grosse Pointes.