Show me the money.
The 311 W. Main Task Force found out Tuesday night that arts consultant AMS Planning and Research is not contracted to recommend how and where the borough can raise funds to cover the cost of renovations for the potential arts center in Lansdale.
Following a lengthy presentation on the results of AMS Planning and Research's interviews with community leaders and a market analysis, task force member Bob Willi asked why nothing was in the presentation about raising money.
"The code violaitons we have in the building right now and the money we need to get it up and started, I didn't see anything in this report about that," Willi said.
Lynette Turner, of AMS Planning and Research, said the presentation feedback showed finances did come up more than once during the interviews with community leaders and at the April community meeting.
"So, it wasn't broken down specifically, but that was part of the discussion: where is the money going to come from, for both capital and operating?" Turner said.
Willi said code violations need to be updated before you can start getting people inside the building.
AMS Planning Principal Michele Walter said the order of operations is that AMS understands specifically the kind of uses the building is going to have, so that when dollars are invested in the renovation, they are also creating the spaces that accommodate the kinds of uses identified and the kinds of users identified.
Walter said a vast majority of investment will start with code violations and handicap accessibility.
"Our work is to create that sort of specific vision for the kind of activity that will take place and who will use it, and also to make sure that there's a viable business plan on the operating side before any capital dollars are expended," she said. "We're not investing any dollars until the results of our work are done."
Task force chairman Mike Sobel said the task force doesn't know what the building is going to be until it gets direction.
"There's a lot of concern about using government money for this, borough money," he said. "A whole lot of borough money has been spent on this project already, and you see where it's at. A lot of people are really frightened about, 'OK. Are you going to take more of our money and put it into this thing?'"
"So, what we want to potentially look at is fundraising and things like that. That is also going to be part of your recommendation: how do we go about this, where do we go, who do we see?" Sobel continued.
Walter responded with "No." AMS is not contracted to do that specifically in the feasibility study.
"What we can do is run you through the case study work that we do and our experience with different models of how this is done and how this has been successfully done elsewhere," Walter said. "We can work with you in a subsequent manner to come up with the package that makes sense to this community, if you would like."
Walter said this is phase one of the process.
"For the lack of a more sophisticated phraseology, there is this go-no go that has to happen first," she said. "Then, we can look at the next steps in terms of analysis."
Task force member Doug Pett asked if the business plan will have a Return on Investment on the operating side.
Walter said AMS doesn't have any assumptions as of yet.
"But when you get to that point, you'll have some assumptions to go with that on the business plan model?" Pett asked.
"We will model it," Walter said. "Do buildings like this typically have an ROI? The answer to that is difficult. We will certainly be modeling it and showing you what the net results are and how they may be funded."
The next 311 W. Main Task Force meeting is Thursday, June 7 at 7 p.m. at the Lansdale Parks and Recreation Building.