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Delray's Arts Garage makes bid for permanent home

By Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — The Arts Garage might have a permanent home on the ground floor of the city-owned Old School Square Parking Garage. Then again, it might not.

Delray Beach city commissioners Tuesday during a marathon-like five-hour meeting, agreed to consider a $2.5 million bid from the Creative City Collaborative to buy for the space the Arts Garage now occupies, which the Collaborative operates The Arts Garage.

Problem is the Collaborative isn’t the only organization that covets the space, just off Atlantic Avenue in Delray’s Pineapple Grove Arts District.

The law firm of Kanner & Pintaluga previously submitted a $2.5 million bid and is working with the city’s real estate representative on putting together a purchase contract. No deal, however, has been finalized.

The Arts Garage opened in 2011 as a stopgap tenant for the space and as a way to bring some life to pedestrian-starved Pineapple Grove. It has become a critical success, with its mix of live music, theater and art exhibitions that attracts audiences from throughout South Florida.

The Collaborative relies on tax money for a considerable chunk of its budget but is attempting to wean itself off public money.  Collaborative Vice President Conner Lynch said the organization has private funding in place to swing the deal for the garage space.

“We certainly are ready to take this challenge on,” Lynch said.

“With all due respect to the law firm, I’d rather see the arts flourish in that space,” Commissioner Adam Frankel said.

At the same time, he said he didn’t want to jerk around the law firm, which has been negotiating with the city for some time.

Commissioners asked for more details on the Collaborative’s source of funding for the deal and they informally authorized City Attorney Brian Shutt to begin working on terms of a deal with the Collaborative just as he has been with Kanner & Pintaluga.

“If we’re not close to a deal, I don’t see any downside at looking at both proposals,” Mayor Woodie McDuffie said.

Also Tuesday, commissioners agreed to appoint a replacement on the commission for Mayor Woodie McDuffie at its Jan. 3 moment. Technically, it’s Commissioner Tom Carney’s seat that is to be filled, but it’s McDuffie who is leaving the commission in early January.

Carney, who is vice mayor, will slide into the mayor’s seat and serve in the position until the end of March. Carney is seeking a full term as mayor during the March municipal elections.

City residents may apply for the vacancy through Dec. 17; commissioners will interview candidates through Dec. 21 and vote on a replacement at its Jan. 3 meeting.

One key that commissioners say they will be looking for: a candidate who will not seek a full term on the commission during the March election. However, they can’t require anyone not to run.

Former Mayor Jay Alperin agreed to step down at the end of his term last summer when he was appointed to fill the vacancy created when former Commissioner Fred Fetzer stepped down.

Commissioners also agreed to a policy for the naming of public buildings, parks and other facilities after distinguished city residents. Suggestions can come from anyone in the city; a committee would review them and make a recommendation to commissioners, who would have the final say.


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