Carnegie Vote Ahead

Maurice Ramirez Photoghraphy    Project Lead Michael Sturtz updates board members of the Carnegie Innovation Hall’s lease agreement, which Alameda City Council was discussing in closed session prior to the Oct. 2 meeting. Later that evening, during the oral communications in the public meeting, several supporters voiced support for the project.

The City Council will vote on three options for the proposed Alameda Carnegie Library and Foster House restoration projects at its Tuesday, Oct. 15, meeting. The Council will vote whether to accept the lease terms and authorize a 33-year lease to the Carnegie Innovation Hall with a 33-year option to renew; direct staff to renegotiate terms of the tentative lease agreement; or direct staff to seek other prospective tenants. 

The latter outcome is unlikely because only two prospective tenants applied when the city sent out request for qualifications for the Alameda Carnegie Building in October 2018. The city awarded the bid to the Carnegie Innovation Hall project in February (“City Selects Proposal for Reuse, Restoration of Carnegie Library,” Feb. 7). 

The Carnegie Innovation Hall team of more than 20 developers, architects, strategic planners, cultural diversity advisors and local educators held numerous independent events in Alameda beginning in April to seek public input (“Packed House Discusses Carnegie Library’s Future,” April 18). The group received favorable responses on their plan from residents, according to the project lead Michael Sturtz, founder of The Crucible, a well-regarded non-profit industrial arts education center in West Oakland. 

The City Council, however, held a closed-session discussion regarding the Carnegie Building project at its Oct. 1 meeting. Though the exact details of the discussion were not disclosed, the Council decided to renegotiate the lease agreement, according to Sturtz. 
Sturtz, an Alameda resident, was bothered by the delay in approval. 

“We’ve been negotiating with city staff for five, six months on the terms of the lease that came in front of you two weeks ago,” Sturtz said at the Oct. 1 Council meeting. “We need your support to make this happen.” Sturtz told the Council their new stipulations to the lease agreement is making completing the project that much harder.

According to the proposed lease terms, the tenant will pay $15,597.61 a month for the first 33 years, which will be fully abated to account for capital improvements. The tenant will receive $6,176,655 in capital improvement credits, also to be abated over the 33 years. Starting 96 months from commencement of operations, the tenant must pay the city 2 percent of gross revenue generated from for-profit special events, after the first $300,000 earned gross revenue. 

Also, Alameda residents will receive a minimum 10 percent discount on the cost of classes, workshops and performances. Alameda community-based organizations will have the opportunity to rent the venue at a 10 percent discount up to 36 times per year. Lastly, the city can hold up to 12 events per year at the venue paying only the direct costs. 

Renovations on the buildings must include new electrical, lighting and heating systems, fire sprinklers, more complete disabled access and the restoration and preservation of many historic elements.