Thursday, August 02, 2007

LIT: Cailloux drops proposal

Cailloux pulls Arcadia proposal
By Alison Beshur, The Daily Times, Published August 1, 2007

The Cailloux Foundation has withdrawn its offer to foot $2 million for renovating the Arcadia Theater.

The foundation’s board of directors unanimously voted to pull the offer to the city of Kerrville off the table.

“The board cannot in good conscience make an open commitment to fund a project that it believes may not be optimal for the theater and the community,” said a press statement from the Cailloux Foundation.

According to the statement released late Tuesday, the board apologized for any contentions it may have created in the community.

“The foundation is still very interested in the potential of the Arcadia Theater as an amphitheater,” the release read. “However, given the increasing debate regarding the future of the Arcadia Theater, the board decided to withdraw its current offer so that the city of Kerrville can develop a plan that best suits the needs of the entire community.

“It was never the foundation’s intent to disrupt the city’s planning process; only to assist with creating an ideal and economic use for the Arcadia Theater.”

In October 2006, the Cailloux Foundation presented the concept to convert the 81-year-old building into an open-air amphitheater.

The plan was one of two major renovation proposals for the Arcadia.

The first plan, at a cost of $1.7 million, initially was planned by the city and the VenueTech Management Group, a consulting firm specializing in historic theater restoration. The second, estimated at $3.1 million, was brought to the city council by the Cailloux Foundation.

The city has been considering which best suits the community.

“The Cailloux Foundation has been gracious in their approach to this from the very beginning, and we appreciate their generosity,” said Kerrville City Manager Paul Hofmann. “The foundation made it clear that their intent all along is to provide a wonderful venue for downtown. This is a decision that needs to be made by the entire community, and we appreciate the respect everyone is giving to this decision.”

Calling himself a “booster,” Joe Luther noted that the city’s plan for an enclosed theater still remains.

“I think the city’s proposal is a good idea,” said Luther, vice chair of the Kerr County Historical Commission. “It’s a good solid idea.”

A city planning committee in Spokane, Wash., where Luther lived before, was successful renovating a historic downtown theater. They showed two movies every evening, and the activity generated enough business to keep nearby small businesses afloat.

The key is to spur activity and drive traffic downtown.

Luther said retired residents provide an ideal market, because they bring in more than $200 million each year in transfer payments.

“These are people who have time on their hands,” said Luther, noting he also is retired. “This group of people are very interested in history.”

Charles Roetter, chairman of the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee, which has been tasked with updating a plan for the central part of Kerrville, said the Cailloux Foundation’s decision eliminates one of two options for the theater.

“Right now, we haven’t started into the revision process,” Roetter said. “We’re still in the fact-finding stage. That would just be another fact we would take into consideration.”

According to the release, the Cailloux board will continue to monitor the debate on the Arcadia, and welcomes the chance to review the decided project. The board said the city can request a grant once a final decision is made through the regular grant-making process.

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