Wayne Theatre construction update
I remember being told, “Nothing comes for free.” I can attest to the validity of that. The Wayne Theatre qualifies for $3,000,000 in tax credits. At one time this infusion of funds for worthy projects seemed like ‘free money.’ Although there were a few hoops to jump through, the process was fairly simple. A historic property sought approval from the state and federal agencies which governed historic renovations. An entity with state and federal tax credit allocations reserved a few million of those funds for the project. Next, a for-profit corporation was created to use the tax credits. A for-profit organization bought into the new corporation in return for the use of the tax credits. And for the next five years after the project was completed and accepted by the state and federal agencies, the for-profit corporation owned the building and rented it to the non-profit. All that was pretty simple.
Then the Historic Boardwalk Hall project in new jersey was taken to court by the internal revenue service and the world got a lot more complicated. I won’t give you all the details, but I will tell you that in order to access the tax credits a new industry has been created for accountants, lawyers and assorted others who have to make sure the “investor” really is a partner with real financial risk, but unlikely to be at risk. Now instead of worrying about five years, we have to project a business plan over 30 years with a positive outcome.
All of that is to say that there are a lot more hoops, speed bumps, and obstacles now that were not there before the Historic Boardwalk Hall case went to court.
The result was that we could not get to the final stages on the commitment on the tax credits in October/November of 2013 as we had thought we would. Nor in January/February of 2014 when we were told it would happen and WTA’s Board of Directors approved using its funds to begin the final renovations.
The good news is that we should make it to closing in November. The even better news is that during the pause, the plans for the Wayne Theatre have been improved. Now instead of a single venue, the revised plan will include the Custin Cabaret (a space not unlike WTA’s Gateway), a lecture/meeting room on the second floor, a reception room behind the stain glass windows on the front facade, and a large women’s restroom on the first floor. The building will be accessible from various entrances, not just the historic lobby and the venues can be used simultaneous. It is a more functional and efficient plan.
So it’s true, ‘Nothing comes for free.’ But the work during the pause gave us time to rethink the building and create a better plan and we get $3 Million is funds that we would not have had to make the plan a reality. It was not free, but it is a benefit.