Mountain Xpress senior news reporter David Forbes covered today’s meeting via Twitter. Here is an edited version of that coverage, which began at 3:50 pm and ended at 4:45 pm.
The committee takes up the Grove Arcade, which is struggling to make its payments on renovation debts to city, despite nearly $1 million received per year in rents for retail, office and residential space. A city staff member says that part of the problem is due to the Arcade’s ongoing maintenance problems, which includes the need for a new roof on the 80-year-old building.
Economic Development head Sam Powers says the Grove Arcade “just not able to pay its debt service” to the city.
City staff is recommending allowing sales/property tax revenue from Grove Arcade to be used to cover the debt.
Grove Arcade Treasurer Scott Hughes says, “We don’t make a profit” all the income goes to maintenance, debt service.
Grove Arcade board member Robby Russell says, “We have some concern” about our ability to pay our debt and for needed maintenance.
Grove board member Russ Martin says the Arcade is the “best deal the city’s ever gotten,” that was key in revitalizing a major part of downtown, and that the city should look at ways of helping the Arcade with its debt. He also says the arcade operates with minimal staff, so no room for cuts there.
Council member Gordon Smith says the city will “probably end up” helping the Arcade, but he wants to know what other options are available. Council member (and committee chair) Jan Davis says that, due to city obligations, “We don’t really have a lot of choices,” that the city has to help the Arcade with its debt in some fashion. “They could hand us the keys tomorrow” if the arcade goes under.
The committee decides to send the Grove Arcade-debt decision on up to City Council.