Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

January 23, 2014

History Center eyes partners

TRAVERSE CITY — The 110-year-old Carnegie Library building on Sixth Street may end up housing more than just historical artifacts.

History Center of Traverse City board members are in talks with the National Cherry Festival and Artcenter Traverse City about potential partnerships or rental agreements to help address the nonprofit's persistent financial shortfall.

The historical organization faces eviction from the city-owned building it's occupied as a museum for over a decade if it can't show financial viability.

“We’re looking at somebody to share the building, looking for a partner, a collaborator,” said Steve Harold, History Center chairman.

Harold said discussions began three or four weeks ago and no details have been ironed out. It’s likely the History Center would rent out some of its rooms that usually are available for reservation, he said.

“We have $50,000 worth of city funding this year, and that will go away on December 31. We need a source to replace that income,” Harold said.

City commissioners have moved in recent years to wean the History Center from regular taxpayer support. Combined, the city and Downtown Development Authority provided payments totaling $175,000 for History Center operations since 2012. The the group still lost just more than $50,000 in 2013, according to its budget report.

A 2012 management agreement with the city calls for the History Center to show it is financially capable of maintaining the operation and maintenance of the property by Dec. 31, 2014. If the History Center accomplishes that goal, it gets title or a 99-year lease to the building and six acres of property.

Failure means eviction.

Mayor Michael Estes said he recently met with History Center officials who asked him if he thought city commissioners would consider extending the lease. Estes noted the History Center is supposed to make a regular financial report to the city that it failed to present in October.

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