Q-1: You just finished the $500K Facelift (Exterior Restoration) Capital Campaign. Why did you not finish the overall $6.6 million theater campaign that gets the theater restored and opened for use?
- The Woodward Development Corporation (WDC) board believes that for the overall campaign to succeed and before it is begun, the Woodward Opera House Block must resemble from the outside what it is underneath: a physically sound structure of great historical significance. That is what the Exterior Restoration Campaign produced.
- The $6.6 million campaign will require support of national foundations that award grants only when they see a history of local participation as exemplified on the recently completed exterior restoration.
- The success of the Exterior Restoration Campaign will help to demonstrate local commitment.
Q-2: What if the $6 million theater campaign takes a long time?
- The enterprise continues. Current first floor rental income is sufficient to cover all operating and financing expenses.
- The downtown streetscape has been dramatically improved at one of its most important intersections.
- The WDC board will spend no more money until it and the community are ready with a plan to proceed with money needed to properly and authentically restore the theater.
Q-3: Who owns the Woodward?
- No single individual or group of individuals own the Woodward. Legally, the Woodward Development Corporation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. WDC has stewardship over and operates the facility for the betterment of the community at large.
- Therefore, in a sense, the Woodward belongs to the community. The Trustees of the Board are stewards of the building and the project on behalf of the community.
- The Board of Trustees are community leaders who are all significant donors to the project and do not receive any compensation for their efforts.
Q-4: Why do we need another theater in Knox County?
- The Woodward with 500 seats is right-sized. Most performances do not require a space the size of the Memorial Theater (1,000) or MVNU’s R.R. Hodges (2,600).
- Local amateur performing arts groups struggle financially. At the Woodward they will have a home, a home that will not be expensive to occupy because of the Woodward’s built-in endowment. The endowment is provided by the 25,000 square feet of income-producing space in the complex.
- The success of Mount Vernon’s new blackbox theater - ThePlace@TheWooward - is the best example and a model for the future Woodward theater operations. Many of the same groups signed on at ThePlace@TheWoodward are anxious to move into the Woodward.
Q-5: How much private local money has been donated and/or pledged to the project?
- As of 12/31/07 - $1.9 million
Q-6: How will this benefit me?
- Review the 8 points on the “Serving the Community Needs”
Q-7: Where has the money gone so far (or what’s been accomplished)?
- Phase 1: Roof Phase (1996-1998)– Complete - Reinforced all roof trusses. Installed beams to elevate roof slightly to re-introduce the soffit overhang, facia, and gutters; installed new high quality raised seam Kynar finished galvanized metal roof; Stabilized two masonry walls.
- Phase 2: Complete (2004) - Retail Rehabilitation and Building Stabilization on First Floor. Installed new water service, electric service, rewired renovated areas, HVAC systems; Reinforced floor joist structures; Rehabilitated three interior first story retail stores and brought all portions up to current codes.
- Phase 3: Abatement & Exterior Restoration Phase (2006-07) – The removal of Lead Base Paint (LBP) from exterior Woodward masonry and the asbestos bearing materials from interior; the restoration of the exterior portion of the Woodward window frames and sashes, exterior window hoods, exterior masonry (repointing) and decorative brackets and wood trim in the soffit areas.
Q-8: How much money is left for the next phase and what is next on the restoration schedule?
- $ Left: There is approximately $2 million pledged for the next phases of the project.
- Next: Phase 4: Theater Restoration & Annex Expansion Phase. When completed, Phase 4 will result in a functional theater open for use by the public.
Q-9: When will the theater be open?
- Funding is continually being sought from local donors, various foundations, and all possible grant opportunities. When the phase thresholds are met, that portion of the project will be implemented and completed.
Q-10: What kind of things will take place in the Woodward?
- Review the 8 points on the “Serving the Community Needs”
Q-11: What about the limited parking?
- There are over 1,400 public parking spaces in the central business district within 4 blocks of the Woodward. In particular, there are 100 parking spaces within the Woodward block and over 300 parking spaces within 2 blocks of the theater, not including the city parking garage on the square. Most major events in the Woodward will likely take place in the evening and on weekends when the parking is most available. In this regard, parking will not be a problem.
Q-12: Who would want to rent space in an old building?
- Downtown Mount Vernon as a whole, has a high rate of occupancy. When 111 South Main St. became vacant, over 30 inquiries were received for renting that space. Finding the “right tenant” can sometimes be a challenge, but the Woodward has experienced great excitement about our project and have many interested parties for possible renters.
Q-13: The building is made of soft brick and is not safe?
Building Specific Comments:
- Woodward Building: Structural engineers and historic masonry specialists from three different professional engineering firms have examined the Woodward building and declared it sound. Minor re-enforcement and repointing has been completed on one corner of the building due to previous downspout leaks. As part of the renovation, floor loading and some structural re-enforcement will be accomplished to bring both buildings up to current code requirements.
- Annex Building: A small portion (in the rear area) of the annex building will be partially razed and a new steel frame building, veneered with matching brick masonry, will be erected. This will not disturb the historic elevations facing the streets, but only affect the rear portions of the building. This will secure these parts of the structure. All other portions of the annex are sound.
- The historic 1850 vintage structure was built with brick made in a period when the methods of manufacturing and firing brick resulting in a type softer than those made today. Based on several engineering and contractor evaluations, the building masonry is structurally sound.
- The floor joists will be reinforced to bring the floor loading into compliance with current floor loading thresholds; some areas do not require reinforcement and some were completed as part of the phase 2 renovations.
Q14: The building looked terrible and unsafe, now it looks great - what did you do?
- See also the answer to Q-13.
- The building was painted multiple times in varying degrees in the past. It was the wrong paint for masonry or was not applied correctly. The paint also was lead based and had to be removed. In 2007, the painted surfaces were cleaned, and the masonry was completely repointed where needed. In addition, the windows, window hoods, related trim, and the soffits and brackets were completely restored and beautified as part of the Phase 3.
Q15: Why is the cost so high ($14.2 million total)?
- $12.6 million Renovation
- $400,000 Acquisition
- $1.2 million in Theater Equipment
- The restoration of one of the most historic buildings in America will not come easily. The end product – an authentically restored historic theater AND functional arts facility serving the needs of so many in the community – will produce a social and economic renaissance in the Mount Vernon and Knox County area.
- Remember, there is nothing like the Woodward ANYWHERE in America. It is one of a kind. This profound statement is based on the following:
- The Woodward Opera House is the second oldest theater in America.
- The oldest is the Walnut (cir 1805) in Philadelphia, PA, originally built for a circus, and later converted to a theater. It was extensively remodeled and changed on the interior in 1970 and currently does not even resemble its original design.
- This makes the Woodward America’s oldest authentic (19th century) theater.
- There are no theaters surviving in America prior to 1805.
Q16: It’s so old and dilapidated that we should just tear it down, build a new building with a historic remembrance plaque?
- In order to build a similar structure with equal square footage (55,000) and current construction rates ($130 psf) would be over $7 million.
- The B&O Station renovation is a straightforward simple project, with no new additional square footage added, nor extensive remodeling. The cost will be $725,000 for a single floor restoration of approximately 4,000 sf, resulting in a sf cost of $180 psf.
- Although not a fair comparison (the Woodward is 4 stories with extensive renovations), using $180 psf on the Woodward would equate to a cost of $10 million.
- This compares to $13 million for the total Woodward renovation, not including the theater equipment, resulting in a sf cost of $236 psf.
Q17: Prevailing Wages required by grants will double the cost of the project?
- This is a misconception of the Davis-Bacon Act as it applies to the payment of the prevailing wage on a government job. It does not have any such impact (doubling) on any work of this type.
- The prevailing wage only affects the wages paid to the workers when they are working on the jobsite. It has no affect on the work performed in their shops and construction facilities, while traveling, on equipment hourly rates, etc. e.g. A large piece of equipment operated by a prevailing wage operator would be billed at $150 per hour. The wage portion of that cost would typically be $25-30 per hour. The operator is a highly skilled individual who would make perhaps $5 less per hour (at the most) on a non-prevailing wage job. This formula shows that it would only impact the equipment cost by approximately 3.3%.
- Contractors who are capable of bonding and completing this sort of work typically are paying wages that approximate prevailing wage.
- Prevailing wage has no effect on the cost and purchase of materials and equipment.
Q18: Can we use local labor?
- We have used local and area labor to complete most of the work, except for major contracts required to be bid in a quasi-public manner.
- Certain disciplines require licensing (e.g. asbestos removal) that is not available from local labor contractors.
- While certain projects may be achievable to many local and area contractors, the large contracts must be bid and completed by contractors capable of accomplishing the work.
- Since pubic money is used for this project, those portions must be bid according to public regulations.
- Even when private money is used, a bidding process will be initiated as an appropriate and prudent business practice.
Q19: Theaters typically burden a community with a constant need for funding; why is the Woodward project different from these other projects?
- The Woodward project encompasses and/or will create a cumulative total of 55,000 square feet of space.
- The theater auditorium, stage, and balcony represent only 15% of the total square footage of the project.
- When the project is complete, there will be over 25,000 square feet of leasable downtown rental space in the facility available to as many as 20 tenants. This will generate a substantial income to the project in perpetuity.
- The growth of the facility will increase the amount of commercial space used in the facility from 13,500 sf to 25,000 sf, an 85% increase in space. At one point, the tenants in the buildings numbered 3; the final count will be approximately 20, a 600% increase in tenancy creating dozens of new downtown employment opportunities.
- The extensive use of the Woodward facility, both the arts and the commercial segments, will bring thousands of people to the downtown district each year that would not otherwise be there. This quality traffic creates business opportunities for all worthy competitors in the district.
Q20: What is the economic impact of the Woodward project in the community?
- See “Economic Impact of the Woodward Project”
Q21: What are the chances of receiving more grants to complete the project?
- Achieving more grant awards will be possible to the extent that the local community matches the funding in a significant way.
- It is estimated that Mount Vernon and Knox County will need to raise approximately $3 million more to achieve the necessary matches to compete for the grant funding necessary to complete the next portions of the project.
- Realize that this is the largest non-institutional project in the county’s history, and likely will remain such for many years to come.
Q22: Are the Downtown people and businesses supporting the project?
- Yes, if not financially, then in spirit. The typical small downtown business is operated on a small margin while competing with the big box retailers and other super stores. Downtown will evolve in this way (very small business) until new economic engines, such as the Woodward and COTC, develop and bring more human traffic to the central business district.
- Several downtown property investors are substantial contributors to the project.
- There are always detractors to any project of change. There were such in every successful development project completed in recent years: namely - the Kokosing Gap Trail, the downtown streetscape revisions, the Dan Emmett Music & Arts Festival, the railroad caboose (now in Gambier), to name a few.
Q23: What other foundations will you seek funding from?
- We have met with several foundations. We are eligible for many of their grant processes. We will apply for a substantial grant at the appropriate time based on their criteria.
- The are many corporations located in Knox County that have national foundations related to their businesses that help fund projects that benefit their employees and the community. We will apply for substantial grants from each as we qualify and at the appropriate time based on their criteria.
Q24: What forms of national promotion can the Woodward pursue?
- As a national Save America’s Treasures (SAT) funded project, the Woodward is in the running for being included in the HGTV network’s “Restore America” program, a cooperative programming effort coordinated with the National Trust and the SAT program. We are seeking that additional recognition thru consultants and others who are working with us on this project.
- The Woodward Opera House Building is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Once the restoration is further along, the WDC will pursue National Monument Status for the Woodward Opera House Building.
- Our historic researchers have concluded that the Woodward Opera House is:
- The second oldest theater building in America
- America’s oldest authentic 19th century theater (The oldest theater building, the Walnut Theater in Philadelphia, was extensively remodeled in the 1970’s on the interior and is no longer authentic on the interior.)
Q25: What is the significance of receiving the Save America’s Treasures (SAT) federal grant?
- The Woodward is the recipient of two federal “Save America’s Treasures” (SAT) grants. This particular grant is only for those projects recognized as being of national historic significance. Receipt of the grant is competitive and is measured against all other national projects from every part of the preservation universe. As a result, VERY FEW preservation projects receive SAT funding.
- The Save America’s Treasures (SAT) grant program, started in 1999, has awarded 908 grants to 897 projects in the United States through 2006.
- The Woodward Opera House ranks 15th out of the 897 projects selected nationally in the award amount granted ($1,035,941).
- The Woodward Opera House ranks 2nd out of 45 Ohio projects selected in the award amount granted ($1,035,941).
- The Woodward Opera House is one of only 11 projects selected nationally to receive two SAT grant awards.
- The Woodward Opera House is the only project in Ohio to receive two SAT grant awards.