Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Arts Center of North Texas inches closer to dissolution
A list of the Arts Center's assets is being drawn up.
The Arts Center of North Texas was dealt another blow Monday night, just one week after plans to spin the organization off into a separate nonprofit were scrapped.
On Monday, Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock said the center's owner cities are seeking a list of the project's assets. While Glasscock made no mention of dissolving the project, coming up with a list of assets to split between the cities would be the first step in dissolution.
The financially troubled arts complex is owned by Plano, Allen, and Frisco, but differing visions of the project's future are likely to result in the project's ultimate demise.
The center's board of directors hoped to keep the assets together and form a new organization with no municipal involvement, but Frisco council members denied that request last week. Since all three cities must agree, the idea is effectively dead.
Glasscock said the Frisco decision "threw us all into limbo," and said there was no action for the city council to take at this time. He said a meeting between the attorneys from all three cities, as well as the arts complex, is scheduled for this week to come up with a list of assets and to make recommendations for the future of the project. He said there was no timetable on when the attorney's report would be ready.
The main question is if the land, which encompasses 124 acres in Allen near the intersection of Custer Road and State Highway 121, has to be given back to its donor, or if it can be sold by the cities. The cities could then sell the land, which is valued at $22 million, and split the money. If the land must be returned to Briar Ridge Investments, the center has only about $2.7 million in cash and investments.
Mary Vail-Grube, the center's interim executive director, said provisions in the deed require Briar Ridge to approve any transfer of the land from the center to another party. She said it is her understanding that the land would be returned to Briar Ridge if the project was dissolved, but that is ultimately a question which will be decided by attorneys.
The project was originally going to be paid for largely with $19 million in bond money from each of the three owner cities, of which $2.6 million has already been sold. Frisco voters revoked their city's authority to sell their bonds in a May 2011 election, a move which, looking back, effectively killed the project. On Monday, Plano Mayor Phil Dyer said Plano residents will be given the same option as their counterparts in Frisco.
"When the Arts Center of North Texas took their vote [to spin the project off], they effectively released the cities from future bond commitments," Dyer said. "I don't want to speak for other council members, but in dealing with reality, we will not be issuing any more bonds and the proper action would be to revoke the bond authority."
Dyer said the bonds can only be revoked by the city's residents, and the council intends to put the bond revocation up for a vote during the next scheduled municipal elections in May 2013. Dyer said the bonds could be voted on before May 2013 in a special election, but that election would cost the city about $100,000.
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