Lee’s Summit has applied the brakes to its plan for building a downtown performance space.
“It’s not the intent, but it’s one of the consequences of what we’ve done,” said Mayor Randy Rhoads.
After a closed session Nov. 6 before its regular meeting, the City Council put Arnold Hall and its parking area up for sale, along with several other surplus properties. Rhoads announced the decision at the end of the council’s regular session.
There was no discussion by other council members, except Councilman Derek Holland asked city staff, if there was concurrence from the rest of the council, to begin searching for another downtown spot for the outdoor performance site.
“We haven’t lost sight of that. We all continue to think about it...” Holland said.
The staff will start looking for an alternate site downtown.
Rhoads said in an interview Monday that the council probably won’t decide whether the performance space should be on a different site than Arnold Hall until it has received written bids for the property.
“If none of them are high enough to appeal, you could reject them all,” Rhoads said.
If that circumstance developed, he said, the best option might be to go ahead with using the site for the performance space.
Parking is a continuing issue downtown, and presently Arnold Hall’s parking is for public use. Rhoads said keeping parking available could be part of negotiations of a final sale.
The city had a couple of false starts after voters approved $600,000 in April 2013 for the performance space.
The first stumble came when the city couldn’t agree on a price with the owner of its first choice for the location, a vacant lot off Market Street. That’s where the former City Hall annex once sat, behind the 1939 post office being refurbished for a museum. The city broke off negotiations for that land and switched the site to the land at Arnold Hall, on Third Street across from City Hall, because it already belongs to the city.
It asked the Lee’s Summit Arts Council to make recommendations on a design at that spot. It recommended reusing the vacant building’s bathrooms and building a stage facing the street.
Councilman Allan Gray pushed for razing the building and instead building a larger footprint for the lawn seating, but architects said that could increase the cost, perhaps as high as $973,975. The council split on Gray’s proposal, and Rhoads broke the tie, voting no.
Councilman Rob Binney, in an interview, said the council’s focus was on the surplus property, not on the future of the performance space.
“If someone purchases it, I’d imagine we’ll have to go elsewhere for the outside performance space,” Binney said.
Binney said the council could pick a site for the downtown space when an opportunity presents itself.
The other three properties for sale are a former fire station on Colbern Road, which is just east of Missouri 291; a parcel south of police headquarters on Tudor Road at Douglas Street, and a triangular parcel on Oldham Parkway, near Missouri 291 North, south of U.S. 50.
That triangular parcel is a remnant of right of way given to the city by the Missouri Department of Transportation.