Early Demolishin of Cates Shed – Financial Mismanagement – This structure houses the old dry-dock synchro-lift previously used by the Cates Towing (“Cates”) operation. The use of the dry-dock facility has been limited for a number of years since it was acquired by the Washington Marine Group. The City initially intended to use the Shed as a place for the Art Gallery, but for reasons I do not fully know, the shed was deemed unsuitable, and so we have a new, much larger, and significantly more expensive building now contemplated for this site (the “Gallery”).
I confess the new Gallery design does nothing for me, and I do not believe it is the “right” place for a building with the Gallery’s appearance. That said, the process has been ongoing for a number of years and has reached a critical juncture. For this reason, I will take no steps to harm or hinder either the financial aspects of the project, or the building design and/or its placement. I believe the vast majority if not all of these matters are substantially settled.
What remains is the need to find matching financial donations to make the Gallery dream a reality. The Gallery, like the Museum, has pledged to locate and secure significant private sector financial participation, a formula I wholly concur with. If they achieve this objective, the City will match funds to a maximum value. If the Gallery and/or the Museum come up short, they will fail in their bid. So it is a fact that neither project is certain and both rely heavily on the support of as yet unnamed donors.
What is certain is that the Cates Shed presents a rental opportunity from which additional City revenue could be (could have been) derived. The question then is why are we accelerating demolition of the Shed when we could earn some rental income while we wait to see how the Gallery does on its work to secure matching donations. I spoke against the early demolition of the Cates Shed during the December 2nd 2012 Public Input Period. See Council Video Feed:
The demolition of the Cates Shed costing $250,000 received early appropriation approval by the current council, and contractors are expected to begin removal of the shed in April 2014. Accordingly, any short-term rental income potential for this site is likely lost. That said, I believe the early removal of the Cates Shed it yet another example of the failed policy of embarking on expenditures before all aspects of a project are certain. There was no urgency to the removal of the Cates Shed. It was simply compelled to achieve a “hurry-up and wait” management objective. Funding for the new Gallery could take as much as two more years to complete, if even successful. Two years of rental income might have covered the cost of demolition, thereby providing substantial savings for the City.
IT IS MY POSITION THAT idle and/or vacant building assets should be leased out for the highest and best possible financial benefit to all City taxpayers. Buildings such as the Cates Shed should not be prematurely destroyed until such time as a firm replacement structure has been approved, and funding for that structure is in place and certain. Therefore in future;
- I will not support the demolition of any building which is otherwise acceptable for occupancy and leasing to third parties, simply to prepare a site in advance for a possible but yet uncertain reality; and
- I will support leasing out of all vacant City owned lands as a means of earning additional revenue for the City so that we can diversify our income sources and reduce our dependency on taxpayer dollars.
When I find myself in a position to apply these policies and principals as setout above, they will guide my decision-making.