The City of Owensboro read a first ordinance Tuesday to allow the RiverPark Center some flexibility in subleasing the portion of its property that was formerly the Bluegrass Music Museum. While this ordinance hasn’t been voted on yet, it allows RiverPark to rent out the 17,000 square-foot space for additional uses beyond performance art, meetings and conventions.
The space, located at Second and Daviess Streets, is owned by the City of Owensboro who leases the property to RiverPark for around $1 per year. However, RiverPark keeps up with the utility, and some of the maintenance costs for the building.
The ordinance states that a second addendum permits RiverPark to sublease the premises to a third party, as long as the usage complies with the requirements of the Article 21 Downtown Overlay District.
“Obviously, we want to allow a much broader use, such as stores, retail, those types of things,” said City Manager Nate Pagan. “We’re saying they can use the space for those three things [performance art, meetings, conventions], plus, they can use it for anything that complies with Article 21. It gives them more flexibility and it’s easier to find a tenant.”
Pagan said that while he isn’t sure RiverPark is having a hard time finding a tenant, the expansion of options certainly makes leasing the space easier for them.
Pagan said a marquee attraction that would draw attendants — a restaurant, for example — would be an ideal use for the space from the City’s perspective.
“There’s sufficient meeting space available downtown, so hopefully something like [a restaurant] would complement existing facilities downtown and not compete against those existing facilities,” Pagan said.
Commissioner Larry Conder said, based on market conditions downtown, the expansive, three-story space could create a lot of revenue, were the right tenant to rent it.
“Ten dollars a foot, and they use all of that 17,000 square feet — that’s $17,000 a month of rent. So, multiply that times 12. That’s a pretty good little gig,” he said.
Regardless of who chooses to rent the space, that amount of money could benefit RiverPark exponentially, Conder said.
“If the RiverPark Center gets that kind of money, and hopefully that lowers or pushes back on additional subsidies that we would have to provide, then that’s a great thing,” Conder said. “If some professionals decide to go in there — even better, because you’re increasing your occupational tax.”