IBJOpinion

Carmel Performing Arts Center not too big to fail

May 8, 2010
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

Cory Schouten’s [April 26 Focus] article regarding the supposed “momentum” for Carmel’s Performing Arts Center (PAC) lacked information, and clouded the overall picture. Interviews were conducted with Mayor [Jim] Brainard, Councilman [Rick] Sharp, who voted for all the funding that has doubled the cost of the PAC, and Councilwoman [Luci] Snyder. These individuals continually orchestrate the mantra that the project is “too big to fail.” But potential failure might be seen in the numbers.

The original pledge of an $80 million PAC has morphed to $169 million-plus, not $108 million as reported, and further building additions and enhancements ordered by the mayor and his majority-appointed Carmel Redevelopment Commission (CRC) undoubtedly will escalate the ultimate cost. Several LLC entities developed by the CRC, including one for $13 million for building the 500-seat Main Stage Theater (MST), have only recently been publicly disclosed. The question is how much more spending may have been concealed from the public.

At issue is why the mayor and the Carmel Council originally approved the PAC without having any private or corporate donations to commence the project, or to fund an endowment to secure its viability. Though the mayor has promised, for the last five years, to raise $40 [million] to $60 million for that purpose, only a fractional amount has been collected.

Now the mayor has requested of the council a $2 million grant, from the city’s rainy-day fund, so that the PAC Foundation can operate to year’s end. The mayor has heretofore assured Carmel citizens that no resident taxes will be used for the PAC. However, this year he backpedaled on that pledge, claiming that he was referring only to construction costs.

In the interim, the mayor and CRC concluded an agreement to lure the Indianapolis Civic Theatre to the project. After 30 years of incremental payments, amounting to $10 million, Civic would be granted a 50-percent fee-simple interest in the MST, an interest in the rehearsal hall, classrooms priority, usage of a 200-seat black-box theater not originally planned, and a potential lock on every performing weekend of the year. It also disallowed any “Broadway-style” plays to be held in the PAC venue by other theater groups. An unconscionable agreement, in my opinion, for a project that will cost Carmel taxpayers $75 million or more, including long-term interest.

The mayor originally estimated a PAC $350,000 operating deficit per annum, but now it appears to be in the millions. This does not bode well for Carmel’s fiscal stability if resident taxes, in addition to business property taxes, are continually tendered to support or complete this project. Additionally, an Indianapolis Star article showed that millions of CRC debt went unreported on a recent financial statement. More investigation is obviously needed in respect to many Carmel issues.

____________

Marnin Spigelman

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  • The flawed PALLADIUM
    Marnin Spigelman is the TRUE Consciousness
    of Carmel Indiana.
    He is RIGHT, and he stands up for what
    is RIGHT.
    The PALLADIUM is a SUPER MONEY-PIT, and
    so fiscally wasteful.
    Marnin Spigelman is the "TOPS".
    On the other hand, Carmel "mayor" Jim
    Brainard, and Rick Sharp, are dunder-headed
    dolts.
    Spigelman for Carmel's MAYOR in 2011.
  • The flawed PALLADIUM
    Marnin Spigelman is the TRUE Consciousness
    of Carmel Indiana.
    He is RIGHT, and he stands up for what
    is RIGHT.
    The PALLADIUM is a SUPER MONEY-PIT, and
    so fiscally wasteful.
    Marnin Spigelman is the "TOPS".
    On the other hand, Carmel "mayor" Jim
    Brainard, and Rick Sharp, are dunder-headed
    dolts.
    Spigelman for Carmel's MAYOR in 2011.

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  1. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  2. If you only knew....

  3. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

  4. The facts contained in your post make your position so much more credible than those based on sheer emotion. Thanks for enlightening us.

  5. Please consider a couple of economic realities: First, retail is more consolidated now than it was when malls like this were built. There used to be many department stores. Now, in essence, there is one--Macy's. Right off, you've eliminated the need for multiple anchor stores in malls. And in-line retailers have consolidated or folded or have stopped building new stores because so much of their business is now online. The Limited, for example, Next, malls are closing all over the country, even some of the former gems are now derelict.Times change. And finally, as the income level of any particular area declines, so do the retail offerings. Sad, but true.

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