Q: What exactly is PARC? What is being proposed?
A: PARC is the acronym for the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex. It is a 16.6 acre site located two blocks north of Kellogg Park and is the home of numerous arts and recreational activities serving the citizens of the Plymouth Community (both city and township).
The present building is a 100-year old school building (former Plymouth High School and then Central Middle School). The preservation of this facility requires significant renovation in the form of new windows, roof repair, addition and replacement of heating and air conditioning systems along with general upgrades of existing restrooms, lighting, pool, gymnasium, and classrooms, etc.
Additionally, PARC is envisioned to include an 800-seat auditorium located between the existing building and the Plymouth Cultural Center. This facility will provide a much-needed venue for local residents as existing facilities do not meet the demand – either too big, too small, or too far away. There isn’t a properly sized facility in a good downtown location within 20 miles. Plymouth is centrally located between Detroit, Ann Arbor, Birmingham-Bloomfield, and Downriver, with great freeway access, making it a perfect location for this venue. Our conversation with local and regional performance groups and other organizations indicate strong demand; we are confident this auditorium could be rented approximately 150 times per year.
Q: What is the business model of PARC? How is it different from other facilities such as Canton’s Summit and Cherry Hill Village Theater, Livonia Recreation Center, etc.?
A: There are several important differences that make the PARC business model much more compelling and viable:
- PARC operates a landlord/tenant model. We lease space (office space, performance space, as well as recreation facilities) to local arts and recreation organizations who conduct their own programs. As such, our costs to run PARC are very low and we do not need to be experts in the variety of arts and recreation options that exist at the facility. We have reviewed the financials of other area facilities and our costs, as verified by outside professional firms, are a fraction of those incurred at nearby facilities.
- We are not part of the government; we are a stand-alone entity that is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization; we must be financially viable. Facilities that are operated by local governments (e.g. Canton, Livonia Rec, etc.) are subsidized by taxpayers out of the general budget. Typically, government agencies are inefficient and experience significant overhead and administrative costs that a non-profit organization does not incur. With government-run recreation centers, there is limited accountability and expenses tend to balloon over time. PARC would not receive any operations funding from any government entity or the taxpayers. Forecasts, confirmed by independent studies, indicate that PARC will be self-sufficient.
- Finally, we know that local organizations (e.g., artists, musicians, dancers, educators, fitness enthusiasts, sports teams, etc.) can deliver a superior product or service better than we ever could. That is why we partner with great local and regional organizations that can serve the community. PARC’s role is to operate the facility and physical resources so that the Arts and Recreation Organizations can market and deliver their product to the community.
Q: Does PARC charge a membership fee? Are the user fees the same for City and Township residents?
A: PARC doesn’t charge a membership fee. Each of the tenants providing services have their own pricing policies. Typically they charge by the hour, day, event, etc. The same applies to all users.
Q: I like the concept, but how will this get funded?
A: We estimate that the three components of the project (renovation of the building, site infrastructure, and construction of the Auditorium) will cost $30 million. We are comfortable with the cost estimate as we have engaged several firms with experience in these projects.
We have undertaken a Capital Campaign to pursue donations from Foundations, Corporations, and generous local residents. Although we are hopeful that a generous benefactor(s) will provide a significant sum, we are realistic in that we will likely need to ask the taxpayers of both the City of Plymouth and Plymouth Township for a millage this August. The amount of the millage is dependent on how much we receive in the Capital Campaign but is limited by statute to a max of 1 mil. Most likely, we would be in the neighborhood of 0.75 mil. (About $8 per month for the average City or Township homeowner with a home value of $300,000.) This proposed millage would be less than currently paid for the Plymouth Library (1.46) or Schoolcraft Community College (1.77). Again, these funds would only be used to renovate the existing facility, construct an auditorium and make site improvements; taxpayers would not be asked to subsidize any of the operating costs.
Q. How are the parking and traffic requirements being addressed?
A. PARC currently has about 265 parking spots on the existing site, significantly more than is required for the existing operation. Approximately 271 additional spots will be added with the theater, for a total of 536 parking spots on the PARC property. Theater parking requirements assume three passengers per vehicle (267 at full capacity). With the Cultural Center parking of 250 spots, the total parking capacity on the combined site is nearly 800 vehicles. This is more than adequate for this arts and recreation “campus”.
Traffic flow should not be a problem with two entrances/exits from Farmer, two from Adams, one from Theodore, and one from Main Street. This configuration will minimize the impact on the neighborhood as vehicles can exit in four different directions after a performance.
Q: What happens if the Capital Campaign comes up short or if the millage is not approved?
A: It is clear that without significant funding for major renovations, the cost to maintain the existing 100-year old building is unsustainable. As a result, PARC’s future would be very uncertain. If insufficient funds are raised to execute PARC’s plan, it is possible that the building could be lost and the property privately developed as a large residential and/or commercial development. The community would lose the existing pool, gymnasium, football stadium, small theaters, and the presence of approximately 30 existing arts and recreation organizations in the heart of our community. The Plymouth Community would lose the financial and quality of life benefits that the existing facility and the auditorium would bring to its citizens, the downtown area and the region.
Q: I’ve heard that an Authority would be in charge? What is that and how would it work?
A: An Authority is a legal structure formed between the City of Plymouth and Plymouth Township. Think of it as an independent partnership. Initially, the Plymouth Area Recreation Authority (PARA) Directors are appointed (4 by the Township and 3 by the City). In 2020 the voters will elect the Directors. The Plymouth Area Recreation Authority (PARA) will request the millage to fund the renovation, site improvements and auditorium construction. If the millage passes, the existing land, building, and private donor contributions would be donated to the PARA. The PARA, not PARC, would own these assets. The PARA would then contract with PARC to operate the facilities. It is important to note that PARA would not provide any money to PARC to operate the facilities. There would be no taxpayer operating subsidy.
The Plymouth Library is an example of an Authority. It is not governed by the City of Plymouth or Plymouth Township but rather it is an independent entity that serves the residents of both communities.
Q: I live in Plymouth Township. Why should I pay for a facility located in the City of Plymouth?
A: Most of us identify ourselves as being ‘from Plymouth’. When asked, we do not tell friends that we live in the City of Plymouth or that we are from Plymouth Township. We share the same zip code. This identity as Plymouth transcends the legal distinction between City and Township.
There is also a valuable relationship between the two entities – Downtown Plymouth benefits from being surrounded by patrons from Plymouth Township and Township residents benefit from having Downtown Plymouth at the heart of our community. Most would agree that property values in the township benefit from the amenities of Downtown Plymouth, and Downtown Plymouth would not be nearly as vibrant if it didn’t receive the sustained patronage from customers located in the Township.
Additionally, the Plymouth Library is a great example of a facility that is located in the City yet funded by residents of both the Township and the City. We believe that the benefit PARC conveys to the entire Plymouth Community is independent of whether it’s located in the City or Township. In fact, it’s location in the downtown area, close to the Library, Historical Museum, Penn Theatre, Kellogg Park, and numerous restaurants, enhances its contribution to the quality of life in our community. Conversely, the open spaces of the Township Park and Golf Course benefit the residents of the City.