Financially, city benefits if Guthrie stays parked

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July 2, 2002 // UPDATED 1:25 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Kevin Featherly
Kevin Featherly

Guthrie Theater proponents and Walker Art Center officials are battling about whether the theater should remain standing once the Guthrie moves to the Downtown riverfront. But at least from one perspective -- dollars and cents -- the city won't mind if the Guthrie stays put for a while.

The city will sell $25 million in bonds to pay for a 700-stall underground parking facility, slated to open in Fall 2003. Parking fees will pay off the bonds.

Mike Sachi, a city public works engineer, told the City Council Ways and Means Committee on July 8 that the city will benefit financially if the Guthrie operates where it is.

"Certainly, the parking ramp will benefit with the added events due to the Guthrie being there," he told committee members. "From our standpoint, the longer the Guthrie continues to operate, the more business the parking ramp will generate."

The planned parking ramp would be built under the Walker expansion and behind the existing Guthrie. The theater would not have to be modified in any way to accommodate new parking, Sachi said.

The council has approved the Walker's $90-million expansion but is still considering a Guthrie demolition. If the Walker succeeds, the Guthrie would probably be torn down in 2005. The Guthrie's riverfront plans have been put on hold by Gov. Jesse Ventura's veto of a $30-million state subsidy.

Sachi said that the city will gross $3 million a year from the ramp. "After expenses," he said, "it will probably clear $300,000 to $400,000 a year."

Sachi cautioned that two tenants will mean overflow parking problems for neighbors. That's because the city's plans assume that the Guthrie will be gone, Sachi said.

"It doesn't make sense to build 1,200 spaces to try to accommodate the Guthrie and the Walker's needs when the Guthrie is looking at moving to the river," he said.

Sachi said ramp excavation will begin within a month. The Walker will pay $12.5 million toward ramp construction costs.