Asheville City Council has unanimously approved new lease agreements for the Diana Wortham Theatre, Asheville Art Museum, and Colburn Earth Science Museum all housed in Pack Place. Vice-Mayor Marc Hunt led the effort to get control over lease management of the facility from the Pack Place Board amid allegations the Board wasn't doing a good job managing or maintaining the property. Hunt serves on the City Council as well as being a member sitting on the Pack Place Board. The Theatre and Art Museum now have 30-year leases with two 10-year successive renewal options, amounting to 50-year leases, respectively. The Colburn Museum received a one-year lease amidst a decision to relocate from downtown.
"We are sad to be leaving downtown Asheville," said Colburn. "But we feel this is the best move for us and for our continued service to our community."
"The city is the ultimate steward of Pack Place," said Vice Mayor Marc Hunt. "It is clearly city owned real estate."
Starting July 1, 2015 the Asheville Art Museum will pay $21,000 a year, $25,200 in 2016, and $29,400 in 2017.
The Diana Wortham Theatre will pay $15,000 in 2015, $18,000 in rent in 2016, and $21,000 in 2017. The money will go towards maintenance of the Pack Place facilities. The Museum has been trying to raise millions in a capital campaign for years. Louis Bissette, a former Asheville Mayor and attorney representing the Art Museum said the Museum Board has raised $15 million and an audit to verify the money has been raised is being done. The Art Museum will expand its square footage in Pack Place. The Diana Wortham Theatre will expand it's theatre into where the Colburn currently resides. If the Art Museum begins renovations, according to the new lease agreement, the Museum won't have to pay rent for three years, as renovations and improvements are being done. But the Museum will only have that clause kick in, if and when renovations begin.
by Kimberly King
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