With each passing day I care about this project even less. 1) Should a museum really have office space in it? If it can't stand on its own then I say it is no good. 2) Like the article states, the City has far greater needs for this money. 3) Why is the City always stepping up to the plate when it comes to big projects? Where are the private developers at?!? 4) ALL of our museums are faliures, period. And not because of what they offer but because of how they are ran. Sadly, I fear that this one will be no different.
I say screw the museum idea and build a nice retail/restaurant complex on the island instead.
And yet again this goes to show just how much potential is here and how it is still
all going to waste because people just can't get things done correctly and in a timely fashion.
I spent my lunch time in Inner Harbor yesterday after my interviews. Yes Harrisburg is smaller but we could easily have that too! I see a waterfront district on the east and west shores and City Island! Imagine the shopping, the restaurants, the places with the beautiful views, the nightlife...
Sports hall could pay for itself, study says
Director asks council to revisit museum plan
Friday, January 27, 2006
BY JOHN LUCIEW
Of The Patriot-News
The embattled director of Harrisburg's proposed National Sports Hall of Fame is asking the City Council to take a fresh look at the $23.5 million project in light of a feasibility study showing the museum would pay for itself.
"It's going to be a successful project," director John Levenda said of the combination museum, office and restaurant project planned for City Island.
But the council has refused to pledge the city's financing guarantee for the sports museum. Last year, the board turned down a request by Levenda and Mayor Stephen R. Reed for $1 million in seed money for the project.
This week, council member Linda Thompson voted against Harrisburg's 2006 budget because $101,000 of the $59 million city spending plan would go to the sports museum project.
The budget was passed by council on Tuesday.
Levenda, of Camp Hill, has been director and sole employee of the museum's nonprofit corporation for the past year. He receives $87,500 a year.
Levenda speculated that his salary and friendship with Reed make him and the sports museum convenient targets.
Levenda's involvement in controversial projects dates to his work as a city consultant on Harrisburg's National Civil War Museum, as well as his occasional trips to the West to collect artifacts Reed has purchased.
"I'm a target because people want to make me a target," Levenda said. "But I'm not ready to walk away from this project, and the mayor is not ready to walk away from it."
Levenda said Reed wants to break ground on the sports museum this year. But the council would have to approve pledging the city's credit behind an estimated $18 million to $22 million bond issue or bank loan for the project.
The museum also is scheduled to get $9.5 million from the state's capital projects fund, but that won't be released until the city spends an equal amount of its own.
Levenda is asking the seven-member council, which includes three new members, to take another look in light of a $30,000 feasibility study showing the venture would sustain itself.
The report, by International Theme Park Services Inc. of Cincinnati, concludes that with the planned addition of 60,000 square feet of office space, the 120,000-square-foot museum, bar and restaurant and office complex could pay for itself.
The report forecasts that office rentals would add $613,000 in revenues in the first year of operation, growing to $934,952 by the fifth year.
The rental income -- along with revenues from museum admissions, restaurant, bar and gift shop operations and various other sources -- would help the project gross $3.9 million the first year, and up to $6 million annually by year five, the report said.
"The only thing I ask is that council look at it with an open mind," Levenda said.
He pointed out that when the council first refused to back financing and seed money for the project last year, several members asked for a detailed feasibility study.
With a positive study in hand, he hopes the council will eventually approve the museum's financing package in another vote.
"The feasibility study and the numbers speak for themselves," Levenda said.
The study did not factor in the impact of a possible rival Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame being discussed in Reading.
Reading officials and the nonprofit group that owns the rights to the name "Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame" say they aren't close to a deal, but that conversations are continuing.
Among the members of City Council in Harrisburg, Thompson opposes the sports museum, and Susan Brown-Wilson and Gloria Martin-Roberts have said the city has far greater needs than a hall of fame on City Island.
New members Patty Kim, Dan Miller and Wanda R.D. Williams have not publicly stated their positions.