Lee’s Summit leaders are delaying a proposed sale of Arnold Hall until the city’s arts council makes a recommendation on adapting the building as part of a proposed outdoor stage and gathering spot downtown.
After receiving an inquiry from a restaurateur interested in buying the building, the city was going to take bids for its sale and reuse to allow other buyers to step forward, too.
But the City Council decided Feb. 20 to delay taking bids for 60 days and formally ask the Lee’s Summit Arts Council for a conceptual plan for the arts space that could include Arnold Hall.
Council member Rob Binney opposed the move, saying the council was on a “slippery slope” by adding Arnold Hall to the mix when it was not included in the bond issue voters passed last year for the downtown arts space.
He also noted that the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Arnold Hall over the years.
“I don’t see putting another dime in that building,” said Binney, who cast the only negative vote.
The issue began late last year when the arts council was asked to advise the City Council on design of the proposed $600,000 festival space on the lot at 123 S.E. Third St., which is partly occupied by Arnold Hall.
The arts council’s work bogged down, though, because of members weren’t certain whether Arnold Hall could be part of the project. As it was asking for more direction, the city got the purchase inquiry.
Some arts council members were irritated when city leaders decided to explore selling the building.
Arts council Chair Syrtiller Kabat said her understanding is that for the downtown project, Arnold Hall and the outdoor performance area are now considered “one space, connected.”
“We appreciate the clarity,” she said.
Council member Derek Holland stressed, however, that the City Council isn’t bound to follow the group’s recommendation.
The City Council also agreed that the city staff could hire a consultant to assist the arts council, if necessary. City Manager Steve Arbo said he could authorize a consultant without getting bids if the fee is under $20,000.
The council also was told that the city’s bond counsel had researched the issue and determined that Lee’s Summit could spend bond money on the building and for the consultant.