Our View: Work Out Details on Deal to Transfer Land for the Performing Arts Center

By: A-J Editorial Board
From: A-J Media

An obstacle arose last month between the Lubbock City Council and the nonprofit organization planning to bring an $85 million performing arts center to Lubbock regarding the donation of the land for the center.

We hope the matter will turn out to be a minor bump in the road that can easily be smoothed out by the two groups at the July 25 council meeting. We would hate to see a potentially beneficial project for our city be derailed over a comparatively small amount of money.

The land in question is the five acres of property near the intersection of the Marsha Sharp Freeway and Avenue L. It is currently occupied by the Department of Public Safety headquarters.

Tim Collins, chairman of the Lubbock Entertainment & Peforming Arts Association, calls the property the ideal location of the center.

We agree. At 1302 Mac Davis Lane, the center would fit well with Lubbock downtown redevelopment and would be across the street from the 1,500 parking spaces of the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.

The DPS is expected to move to a new facility at Lubbock Business Park by the end of the year, which would make the property available.

A question about demolishing the existing DPS building after the law enforcement agency is gone appears to have caused the conflict.

The cost of demolition could be $250,000 and was earlier estimated at being between $100,000 and as much as $1 million if an abatement is necessary, according to Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson.

The city is discussing with the DPS regarding how much of the costs will be covered by the state.

It’s not unreasonable for the city leaders to want to know up front how much money might be required on the city’s part regarding the property. Delaying the deal until the details can be worked out is OK — as long as the deal is worked out.

The LEPAA set appropriate conditions in its request for the property:

■ The association will have at least $45 million in written commitments for building the center before the property will be transferred.

■ Construction of the center must begin by the end of 2017 or the agreement will terminate.

■ Ownership of the property will revert to the city if LEPAA doesn’t build the facility and fulfill its end of the deal.

The association began with $20 million in commitments, and Collins said he is optimistic they will reach the $45 million mark in donations by the end of the summer or early fall. Construction could begin in 2014.

The matter was delayed on June 27 until the July 11 council meeting but now has been pushed back to July 25.

The LEPAA will offer a resolved version of the proposal that includes a cost cap, Collins said.

We editorialized on May 5 the center would be a great asset to Lubbock and regional residents and to downtown redevelopment.

We hope the questions will be resolved by July 25 and all of the t’s have been crossed and the i’s dotted. The facility should mean a great deal to residents of Lubbock and the region for many years to come.

At-a-glance

■ Our position: The initial discussion of the deal that would transfer land that would be ideal for a local entertainment and performing arts center has been compared to a moment in a baseball game when the center fielder, the shortstop and the second baseman are moving into position to catch a fly ball that falls somewhere in the middle. That isn’t a bad comparison, but the parties will have had almost a month to think about it between the first discussion and the July 25 City Council meeting. We hope the deal will be reached then.

■ Why you should care: The new center will not be built with tax dollars and will increase local entertainment opportunities.

■ For more information: Log on to our website, www.lubbockonline.com, and enter the words “performing arts center” in the search box.