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Chateau operation option set to return to Rochester council

Threshold Arts proposal remains as staff recommendation to activate historic former theater.

11-01 chateau (copy)

ROCHESTER — A proposed use for the historic Chateau Theatre is expected to get additional discussion Wednesday.

The Rochester City Council is set to revisit a proposal to contract with Threshold Arts, which was put on hold in November.

Threshold Arts was among three groups that presented plans to operate the facility. The city’s Civic Music, Parks and Recreation and Library departments joined forces to pitch another proposal and local businessmen Steve Barlow and Dan Van Hook brought a third option.

The nonprofit Threshold Arts is proposing a three-year contract with plans to provide daily activity in the building, which would include rental options.

“We will offer educational experiences (history, arts, cultural, and community interest exhibits), local retail, areas to relax, games to play, space for meetings, and a venue for events that both represent and appeal to the diverse makeup of our community,” Threshold Arts Founding Director Naura Anderson wrote to the council in a Dec. 23 letter.

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One of the concerns cited by council members during earlier discussions is Threshold Arts’ ties to the Castle Community, which is working through a breach of contract claim related to the city’s sale of the former Armory building at the intersection of North Broadway Avenue and Second Avenue.

Threshold Arts operated second- and third-floor space in the building before it was forced to close during the pandemic, and the space is now rented to Echo Church, which the city claims violates an agreement to operate the building as a community arts and cultural space.

Scott Hoss, a member of the Castle Community and Anderson's longtime romantic partner, requested an extension to bring the Castle operation into compliance with city expectations, and the organization was given until March 31 to make changes.

It remains unclear whether those changes will include Threshold.

Anderson has said she believes the organization can operate out of its current 311 S. Broadway storefront, the Castle and Chateau Theatre at the same time, with each location offering unique opportunities to connect residents and visitors with the arts.

Hoss’ request to the city cites the potential for the Castle Community to work with another organization, Amplify Arts.

Meanwhile, the Castle Community and Threshold Arts are facing legal action from Cameo At the Castle, the restaurant on the first floor of the building. A court complaint filed on behalf of restaurant owner Zach Ohly seeks potential release from the business’ contract.

While some council members expressed a desire to wait for the Castle Community questions to be resolved, city staff pointed to benefits related to activation of the Chateau Theatre as soon as possible.

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“The Chateau building has currently been empty most of the time for over a year,” city project manager Jaymi Wilson wrote in a report to the City Council. “The community has shown interest in attending and creating programming within the building, even during the time the building is empty.

“Identifying an operator to manage the keys, calendar, and programming of the building allows the community greater opportunity to participate in programming within the space.”

She added that activation of the building will help ensure it remains in good condition, with Threshold staff on-site to spot any problems that could arise.

The Threshold proposal asks for the city to provide $106,190 in furnishing and equipment for the Chateau, along with an unidentified expense for building improvements. It also proposes the city would receive half of any rental revenue after expenses.

If the council supports moving forward with the Threshold proposal, city staff will be tasked with negotiating an agreement that outlines specific costs and revenue agreements. The council would need to approve the final agreement for it to be implemented.

The discussion of options is expected to be held during the regular council meeting, which has been moved to Wednesday due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The start time has also switched from 6:15 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The meeting, which will be held in council chambers of the city-county Government Center, will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available for viewing on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.


UPCOMING MEETINGS

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Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Jan. 17 include:

Rochester 

• Ethical Practices Board, 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Access information is available at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas

• City Council study session, 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

• Public Library Board, 6 p.m. Wednesday. Access information is available at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas

• City Council study session, 7 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

Olmsted County

• Health, Housing and Human Services Committee, 11 a.m. Tuesday in conference room 2 for the city-county Government Center.

• Administrative Committee, 2 p.m. Tuesday in board chambers of the government center.

• Board of County Commissioners, 3 p.m. Tuesday in the board chambers of the government center. Commissioners will also meet as the county’s Building Authority and the Regional Railroad Authority during the meeting

• Parks Commission, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Public Works, 2122 Campus Drive SE

• Environmental Commission, 7:15 p.m. Wednesday in room 186 at 2122 Campus Drive SE.

Rochester Public Schools

• School Board, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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