The Town Council has approved renewal of the leases for the three entities that rent space in the Adams Memorial Building downtown. The board voted 7-0 to approve renewal of the leases, beginning July 1, 2013 and running through July 1, 2016.
Town Administrator John Anderson presented the leases. The Derry Arts Council rents space in the building for $1,000 per month, including the second-floor auditorium, the Green Room, two dressing rooms, and the stairway and lobby. The Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce rents two rooms on the first floor for $1,050 per month. The Derry Housing Authority rents three rooms in the basement for $500 per month.
The Council has had discussions with the Arts Council on its use of the building and what it could do to bring people downtown. Councilor Brad Benson asked, “Is there still an issue with the Arts Council? We’ve had workshops, discussions on how to utilize the property.” Benson added that the issues were never resolved, because the Council ran into discussions of the parking problems on West Broadway.
Anderson replied that he had talked with the Arts Council, and members were setting goals and “hitting their targets” to increase usage of the building. The problem, he said, is “Without a lease, it is difficult to plan for the long term.”
The Council recently lost a tenant because it had no long-term lease, he said. Councilor Neil Wetherbee suggested a one-year lease, noting that some issues are still unresolved. But Anderson responded that the Council had originally asked for a five-year lease.
Anderson said the staff decided to keep all the lessees on the same schedule. “They were staggered before, with three different dates,” he said, adding that he allowed the contracts to lapse so he could bring them all into the same period.
Wetherbee reiterated that he thought a one-year lease was best. While the Council said it needed a three-year lease to secure tenants, “if they need three years to be viable, it’s a chicken-and-the-egg thing,” he said. But if the Council succeeds, it could be driving the downtown renewal, he added.
The outstanding issue is still parking, Benson said, adding, “It impacts their ability to attract tenants. If they had better parking, would they be more rentable? How do we support them better, so it will benefit downtown?”
Anderson said the town is continuing to make renovations to the facility from its capital budget. “We are willing to do our part to support them,” Anderson said. “What are they doing to support downtown?”
The Council agreed to approve the leases, with a workshop on Adams Memorial planned for fall.