STUART — The City of Stuart began accepting proposals this week for leasing the downtown performing arts venue, the Flagler Center.
Proposals must be submitted to the city's Purchasing Office no later than 2:30 p.m. April 24. Purchasing Manager Terry Iverson said next month's deadline should be more than enough time for individuals and firms to get proposal's together for leasing the Flagler Avenue property.
"It's not that they need to get any special information together to submit," said Iverson, during a town commission meeting Monday. Applications will be judged on the planned use of the venue, the experience of the proposer and the proposed lease rate. The term of the lease cannot be longer than 10 years.
The 1940s USO building turned arts venue currently is run by the nonprofit Friends of the Lyric, which also runs The Lyric Theatre.
In November 2010, The Lyric Theatre agreed to manage the Flagler Center for the city, with the city receiving 10 percent of net income and part of ticket sales. The agreement intended to save the city $400,000 a year in operating costs, while giving the Lyric a second downtown venue. But controversial emerged over the type of programming the Flagler Center offered and financial losses the venue incurred.
The Lyric focused mainly on scheduling more refined events such as jazz and classical music nights. City officials believed the Flagler Center should offer more recreational activities such as arts and crafts. Performances at the 370-seat venue did not attract capacity crowds and records showed losses totaling $146,775 at the end of the first year of operating.
The Stuart Commission terminated the agreement with the Lyric last June. The two groups agreed at a subsequent meeting to allow the Friends of the Lyric to continue managing the space until May 5. By then, Iverson said, the review process on proposals would be under way.
The hope is to bring a recommnedation to the commission by May 27, he said.
That recommendation could give the Flagler Center back to the Lyric Theatre again. Iverson said four parties have asked for the application for making a proposal. They are the Lyric, Eventmakers, Ron Hart and Clapping Monkey Productions."
The town commission thinks the list will grow in the upcoming weeks. When the recommendation is made, the top firm will be required to place a $5,000 non-refundable deposit. No deposit is required to submit an application.
City Manager Paul Nicoletti said proposals cannot be for residential or industrial uses. The proposals should emphasize how they'll bring the arts to the Stuart community through the Flagler Center.