Downtown Durham Theater - city's questionnaire
info at durhamloop.org
info at durhamloop.org
Fri Jul 23 13:13:02 EDT 2004
Attached is the citys questionnaire about the proposed downtown theater, as
well as some background information they provided at the last public
Please take a moment to complete the questionnaire and return it to Noni
From: Simmons, Noni [mailto:nsimmons at ci.durham.nc.us]
Sent: Friday, July 23, 2004 8:53 AM
To: Simmons, Noni
Subject: Request for questionnaires
Please ask your distribution lists to open both the questionnaire and the
FAQs and most importantly to return their answers to me directly so we can
tabulate the answers and any comments. While it might appear that the
questionnaire cannot be answered and returned by email, it can by
highlighting the response.
My email , fax and mailing address are included. Thanks for the help.
Noni Simmons, Downtown Development Coordinator
Office of Economic and Employment Development
101 City Hall Plaza
Durham NC 27701
phone 1-919-560-4965 x 226 fax 1-919-560-4986
email: Noni.Simmons at durhamnc.gov
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EVENTS CENTER
1. What is the Events Center project?
A: The Events Center project is a multi-use facility that will accommodate
large audience sizes up to 4,000 seats as well as accommodate more intimate
audience sizes for smaller performing art groups such as American Dance
Festival. The facility can accomplish this because it will have retractable
walls that can move inward to reduce the size of the facility.
2. What are the goals of the Events Center project?
A: The Events Center project has several community goals identified in a
2002 feasibility study. The Events Center Feasibility Study, as called for
by the Cultural Master Plan, identified the need for a regional 4,000-5,000
seat Events Center to accommodate national touring acts that currently do
not play in the Triangle. With a capacity of 4,000 seats, the Events Center
will be the largest indoor theater between New York and Texas. This
capacity along with excellent sightlines and acoustics will give the Events
Center the ability to attract the biggest stars on tour, while intimate
enough to offer a quality theater-like experience to all patrons.
Another clear goal of the project is to provide a permanent home for
ADF, as supported by the Cultural Master Plan. Other performing art groups,
needing a larger stage than the Carolina Theatre has and more seating
capacity, will have access to this quality space.
Other goals include strengthening the Carolina Theatre, fulfilling the
blueprint of the Downtown Master Plan that calls for an entertainment
district along Blackwell St. and Main St. to help revitalize downtown
Durham, drawing more visitors to Durham (day-trippers and overnight
visitors) and, therefore, more outside dollars into the community, creating
jobs, and creating additional spin off development.
3. Where will the Events Center be located?
A: The current plan is to have the Events Center located just north of the
Durham Bull Ballpark, adjacent to the American Tobacco project. The City
owns about 8 acres of land on this site. As a part of the Downtown Master
Plan, the Events Center would be located within the emerging entertainment
district. The project would also not be far from the Durham Transportation
Center and the City Center. (See the site plan included with this
4. Will there be additional development around the Events Center?
A: Yes. It is projected that an additional $20 million of ancillary, mixed
use development will occur in addition to the Events Center. Using the
Events Center as a catalyst, the ancillary private sector development will
create more critical mass in downtown and generate more tax revenue for both
the City and the County.
5. What kind of acts will play in the facility?
A: Programming we expect to attract include a wide array of national acts
that will feature concerts, comedy and family entertainment. A line-up of
Blues, R&B, Country, Jazz, Rock, New Age, Folk and Bluegrass, and Oldies
concerts will play a big part in the Events Centers ability to offer
something for everyone to the widest spectrum of music fans. Shows like
Harry Connick Jr., Patti Labelle, Norah Jones, Sting, Jackson Browne, Rascal
Flats, Moody Blues, David Chapelle, Tony Bennett and B.B King would be
examples of the type of entertainment. A variety of Family Events will also
play in the Events Center including shows like Blues Clues and Sesame
Street. It is projected that somewhere between 50-75 national acts will
play each year in the facility. In addition to this, there will be
approximately 60 local events, including ADF, corporate rentals and other
performing art groups. All in all, it is anticipated that the Events Center
will be in use 150 days a year.
6. Will the Events Center affect the Carolina Theatre?
A: The City has worked closely with the Development Team to ensure that the
Carolina Theatre is helped, not hurt by this project. The current proposal
calls for the operator of the Events Center to book 10 additional acts at
the Carolina Theatre. It also would give the Carolina Theatre first booking
rights to events that draw up to a certain audience size (i.e. 2,000 and
below average audience size). Joint sponsorship opportunities would be
explored as well. The bottom line is that the City is the owner of the
Carolina Theatre and it is in its best interest to protect this cultural and
7. What is the process that the City followed to bring this project forward?
A: Here is a short chronology of the process:
The City conducted a feasibility study with Webb Management Services for
this project from 2002-2003. The process included discussions with over 60
different organizations and 89 individuals. This feasibility study concluded
with a recommendation to explore building a multi-use performance center.
Based on feasibility study recommendations, the Council directed City
staff to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to two development teams that
had been working with the City on the project. Responses were received on
June 21, 2003. The RFP outlined the Citys goals including a new home for
ADF as well as a facility for national concerts and family events for
touring shows that do not currently exist in the region.
The City established a Citizens Advisory Committee to review the proposals
that included representatives from Downtown Durham Inc., American Dance
Festival (ADF), the County of Durham, the Carolina Theatre, Walltown
Childrens Theatre, Duke University, St. Joseph Foundation, Durham Chamber
of Commerce, Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, Durham Arts Council and
City staff. The Citizens Advisory Committee unanimously selected the
development team of the American Center for the Performing Arts Associates,
which consisted of Phil Szostak Associates (Co-developer), Garfield Traub
Associates (Co-developer), Clear Channel Entertainment (Operator), Turner
Construction (Constructer) and Theatre Projects Consultants (Theatre
The development team was initially designated for a six-months period to
put together a development proposal for Council consideration. After six
months of hard work, the team has made substantial progress and was recently
granted 4 additional months to submit to Council.
8. Is the Events Center project aligned with the Cultural Master Plan?
A: Despite the fact that the Events Center project started years before the
Cultural Master Plan, the project has a lot in common with the Cultural
Master Plan. For example, the Cultural Master Plan states the following:
Many participants confirm the importance of creating more opportunities for
residents to experience the types of arts and entertainment they are
interested in, in venues they want to attend. This means a range of venues
from major performance halls that book nationally prominent acts to small
jazz clubs, galleries, coffee shops and bookstores that provide exciting,
innovative, edgy entertainment. It goes on to say: However, the need for
additional cultural facilities of various types and to perform various
functions was raised consistently. Participants commented frequently on the
lack of available space of all types -- exhibitions, studio, performance,
rehearsal, and the like. In conclusion the report makes it clear that,
There is little question that there is a need for new cultural facilities
in Durham. Indeed, the consultants were told of a wide range of needs.
The Cultural Master Plan report went on to identify six priorities for
facilities in Durham:
1. Improve systems for maintaining and upgrading Durhams existing cultural
facilities: (See Question 10.)
2. Develop a rigorous system of guidelines for evaluating potential cultural
facility projects: The Events Center project has followed every one of
these guidelines suggested. The Cultural Master Plan stated the following
a. The project addresses specific strategies in the Citys 2000 Downtown
Master Plan: The Events Center is a specific result of the 2000 Downtown
Master Plan and addressed the goal of developing an entertainment district
along Blackwell and Main St. in downtown.
b. The project has components that engage the broader community, including
accommodating the American Dance Festival (ADF); other performing art groups
that need a larger stage; the possibility of its use as a community exhibit
space and a large meeting venue for local, regional and national meetings
that currently does not exist in Durham.
c. The project fills a niche in the regional market place for touring
national acts. The City commissioned a year-long feasibility study that
researched not only the regional market place but also explored many local
cultural needs as well. In fact, the Webb Management study which was part of
the Events Center project has many of the same recommendations found in the
Cultural Master Plan. The study concluded that a strong regional market
niche exists for touring national acts and that the City should move forward
in trying to secure a permanent home for ADF.
d. The project includes a rigorous business plan that shows its viability to
ensure that the project is financially beneficial to the City. The City and
the Development Team continue to work on the business model. The project
must make sense to the taxpayer.
e. The project provides access to all Durham residents, accommodating a wide
range of audiences.
3. Support for small (100-300 seat space) performing space at Central Park
and American Tobacco.
4. Support for a history and cultural heritage museum.
5. Support for leaders to pursue a new home for ADF: The Cultural Master
Plan considers this goal to be of high priority. The Events Center project
agrees with this and has been working to this stated goal.
6. Supports space for smaller venues including administrative space, a
Latino cultural center, and art space for youth and ancillary arts spaces:
The Events Center project is currently exploring these ideas as part of its
9. How will the project be financed?
A: The project calls for City funding of $24 million, most of which would
be paid for with a dedicated revenue (occupancy tax) that was specially
earmarked in 2001 by the North Carolina General Assembly. This dedicated tax
could support as much as $20 of the $24 million. The remainder of debt
service, about $4 million, would be supported by the net operating revenue
from the project. No additional taxpayer dollars are envisioned for this
project. The additional $18 million for the project would come from non-City
sources. If the non-City sources do not meet expectations, the project will
have to be downsized.
10. How will the City upgrade our facilities such as the Carolina Theatre?
A: Deferred maintenance has been identified as major issue for the City.
Deferred maintenance has been occurring for several years, adding to the
distress of many city-owned properties. The City is working to address
these issues. The General Services Department conducted a building analysis
that identified $44 million in hard costs associated with deferred
maintenance needs. The Council recently approved a new budget that includes
a 2 cent tax increase that will be dedicated to deferred maintenance. The
Carolina Theatre will receive almost $3 million in deferred maintenance in
this years City budget and the Durham Arts Council will receive about
$630,000 in funding as part of this plan.
11. How is the project going to be operated?
A: Clear Channel participated on the Development Team and was designated as
the preferred operator. There is a misconception that Clear Channel will be
making all the money and the City holds all the risk. This is not the case.
Clear Channel would be paid a management fee to operate the City-owned
facility. It is important to note that City staff has been focused on
striking a satisfactory business arrangement with Clear Channel that brings
the most events to downtown at the lowest cost. While we have made some
progress on this front, one of the reasons for the four month extension
request is to finalize a structure for the management agreement that makes
sense to the City. If it does not, we would explore other operators.
12. Will Clear Channel receive City incentives for the project?
A: No. Clear Channel will receive a management fee and nothing else.
13. Does the City have to raise taxes to pay for the Events Center or use
existing general fund dollars?
A: No. in both cases. The money to pay for the Events Center will come from
a dedicated state occupancy tax that was enacted in 2001. Just under half of
the project is proposed to be funded by non-city sources.
14. Can we use the occupancy tax for another use?
A: No. The State legislature was enacted in 2001 and explicitly states that
the money must be used for a Durham-based theatre. The occupancy tax will
generate up to $1.4 million a year in revenue for the project.
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