The Duluth City Council Monday (Aug 13) terminated its two-year lease agreement with Eddie Owen for the city-owned Red Clay Theatre. The Duluth Downtown Development Authority plans to enter into a contact with Owen being provided $75,000 a year to manage the theatre.
“Eddie Owen Presents” has been booking singer-songwriter concerts at the downtown Duluth venue since last December.
The management agreement between Owen, “Eddie Owen Presents” at the Red Clay Theatre, and the DDA is pending review and approval by the city attorney, according to City Manager Tim Shearer.
The city council had agreed at its Aug. 6 work session to amend the lease agreement with Owen to assume the utility payments for the theatre and pay the maintenance costs for heating/air-conditioning and plumbing. The city council approved a budget amendment last night that allocates $25,000 for utilities plus $3,000 for maintenance at the RCT.
Owen and the city entered into the lease agreement last fall. The lease required Owen to start paying the utilities April 1. In the now terminated lease, the city and EOP had agreed to split profits.
Instead, the DDA agreed to enter into the management contract with Owen at a called meeting Aug 9. The council affirmed DDA's action authorizing emergency repairs at the theatre where an end wall is reportedly in danger of collapsing into the basement due to water damage from flooding. The DDA would fund Owen’s salary and pay for the emergency repairs. The cost of the repairs has not yet been determined, Shearer said.
Under the agreement with Owen serving as venue manager, EOP would be required to present a minimum of 10 shows a month. The DDA would set up a $20,000 fund that Owen could draw upon to cover shortfalls in concert ticket receipts for name acts that require a guaranteed fee to appear on stage at the RCT.
The council at its Aug 13 meeting affirmed the DDA’s action concerning the emergency repairs, which include excavating dirt, eliminating basement flooding, building a foundation, and erecting a brick veneer wall. The flooding problem in the basement of the theatre has been growing “exponentially” in recent weeks, Shearer told the council. “There is serious concern that the wall will collapse,” he said.
The end of the theatre building was demolished after it suffered irreparable damage due to heavy rains and ground flooding in the fall of 2009. The exterior side next to a vacant lot that now separates the Red Clay Theatre from Pure Taqueria was covered with tarpaper to protect the rest of theatre from the elements. The brick veneer wall would replace the unsightly tarpaper.
Shearer explained that the emergency repairs would serve as the initial phase of improvements the DDA was already considering at RCT.
The DDA at its July 17 meeting approved hiring the engineering firm of Hill Foley Rossi and authorizing the expenditure of $16,500 to design and prepare construction documents to pour a foundation to stabilize the unstable wall, expand the basement, and install a concrete pad on top of the vacant land between the theatre and the restaurant. The pad would be foundation-ready for future development.
The authority also had approved spending $5,000 for HFR to design new restrooms and other improvements in the RCT.