PERFORMING ARTS TENANTS SOUGHT -- With renovation of ECPAC set to begin, El Cajon wants to arrange some long-term leases
Union Tribune (2014-05-22) Karen Pearlman
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PERFORMING ARTS TENANTS SOUGHT
With renovation of ECPAC set to begin, El Cajon wants to arrange some long-term leases
By Karen Pearlman
5:06 a.m.May 22, 2014
el cajon — With the East County Performing Arts Center scheduled to be renovated, upgraded and reopened in mid-2015, the city has taken steps to find long-term anchor tenants.
The El Cajon City Council has expressed commitment to renovate and reopen the once popular center, and last week the city requested statements of interest from viable entities that want to rent the facility for a minimum of five years. The deadline for submittal to the city manager’s office is 5 p.m. June 16.
City Manager Doug Williford said that before the city completes the renovation design plans or starts construction, it is trying to determine what potential long-term tenants are interested “in a manner more substantial and consistent than would be normally expected of a traditional rental tenant.”
The Rock Church earlier this year made such a proposal to the city, and it continues to be under consideration, Williford said.
Ray Lutz, the leader of the Save ECPAC group, took the city to task when a Rock Church representative met with Williford to discuss being a major tenant, saying it was unfair that no other group had been invited.
“We caught them red-handed trying to give this to the Rock Church in secret meetings, and now they’re saying everybody should be involved,” Lutz said, adding that he felt the church is “trying to rip off the city at $10,000 a month for 10 days.”
Williford has said there were no “secret meetings” and that it was a cold call that came from the megachurch to express interest, followed by a discussion in closed session, as allowed under the open-meetings law. He said the city did not reach out to the Rock and make an offer.
Lutz said “the city needs to stand up to this sweetheart deal that would be impossible to find anywhere you would look. No other facility with a similar size would give this kind of a deal.”
The East County Performing Arts Center is a 1,145-seat theater housed within a 35,000-square-foot building that opened in 1977. Constructed jointly by the Grossmont Community College District and El Cajon, it was operated by the college district from 1977 to 1995, and by the city from 1995 to 2009, after which it was closed due to budget constraints.
“Reopening the East County Performing Arts Center will be an exciting event, not only for El Cajon, but for the entire region,” Williford said. “It is one of the largest indoor event centers within the region and has a long history of being host to many memorable performing arts and entertainment events. As we prepare the center for its bright future, it is important to the city that we investigate important opportunities to ensure the facility’s long-term success.”
Williford said that about six months before ECPAC would open, the city will contract with a general manager or a management agency “to operate, market, schedule and manage the facility on behalf of the city.”
According to the official request form, respondents are asked to include specifics, including “a full, detailed description of how the entity proposes to utilize the facility, including a description of the days each month and times per day the facility would be utilized by the organization.”
It also asks for a description of any necessary physical requirements within or associated with the facility as well as proposed monthly or annual rental fee “and any other proposed financial contribution to the city or directly to the facility, including any proposed payment of utility costs.”
“Sufficient financial data, both historical and current, which would demonstrate the entity’s ability to meet the financial obligations of an agreement with the city over the term of the agreement” is also requested.
The form also notes that El Cajon “reserves the right to reject any or all proposals submitted and makes no guarantees of further communication or process with respondents.”
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