May 6 2011

Opinion: The Original Swim Club Lease versus the New Arts Center Lease

A letter addressing whether rent and other provisions are similar in the two leases


At the May 2 City Council meeting, the City Administrator said at least twice that the handling of the 801 Magnolia property was consistent with the handling of the pool decades ago.  As I understand it, his point is that, like the Magnolia lease, the original 1964 pool lease did not involve cash rent, because at the conclusion of the original lease the improvements (the pools and changing rooms) became the city’s property and thus served as “in-kind” rent.

However – the lessees of the 801 Magnolia property are not building an expensive new facility on vacant City-owned land at their own expense, as the Swim Club did – rather, they are making about $75,000 worth of
repairs to an existing building that the City purchased for about $700,000 and in return paying $1/year rent while receiving the right to sublet it to others for a fee. They also do not appear to be bound by any requirements to provide any public use or school access, as the Swim Club was. For this new group, promises are apparently sufficient.  The arts group’s board includes the influential editor of the Piedmont Post, for which Council Member Wieler is a regular columnist, yet he did not recuse himself.

It is true that the 801 Magnolia lease is similar to the original Swim Club lease in one way – it does not involve any of the onerous capital improvement, insurance and indemnity provisions that the City never required in the past, but insisted on for a new pool lease.

Timothy Rood
Piedmont Swim Club Board, President

(This letter expresses the personal opinions of the author. All statements made are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.)

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