Nice datum point, C Note. The racists just can't acknowledge their complicity in this nonsensical law. Big props to Gabrielle Giffords for opposing SB 1070 on NPR this afternoon!
Margaret Regan's intelligence, compassion, keen eye for detail and contextual depth, and wonderful writing is a gift to this community. The Tucson Weekly is incredibly fortunate she writes for the paper. Let's hope this is the first of several books to come. Congratulations for a fine achievement!
Thanks for sharing, Myrtle.
Here's the correct version of the Inside Tucson Business fictional story, as published in today's edition. The story by Joe Pangburn was a pathetic attempt to write a hit piece, with a primary source whose credibility is laughable.
Let's get some facts straight about Rialto Theatre's impending eviction
By Doug Biggers, special to Inside Tucson Business
Published on Friday, July 17, 2009
In the July 13 issue of Inside Tucson Business, I believe the story about the Rialto Theatre’s impending eviction from some of the spaces it uses was riddled with errors and was intended to promote a negative image of me and the Rialto Theatre.
As the former editor and publisher of the Tucson Weekly, I have no problem with stories that have a point of view. In fact, the notion that journalism should be objective is largely a fallacy. What is important, however, is to be certain that statements presented as fact are accurate. I don’t believe that happened in this instance.
Let me refute some of the comments in that article that were made by Paul Bear, former owner of the Rialto Theatre:
• Bear states the Rialto Theatre Foundation has requested the developers of a proposed downtown arts and entertainment complex convey the spaces in question at no cost.
Not true. We have consistently said the property should be conveyed to the Rio Nuevo District, owner of the Rialto Theatre, for fair market value. Developers Don Martin and Scott Stiteler, owners of the block, have previously agreed that the Rialto needs those spaces and they should be conveyed to the district. They are now unwilling to do so.
• There was no public outcry when the Rialto Theatre was evicted from these spaces when I owned the Rialto Block, according to the article.
I would argue that’s because by that point the Rialto Theatre had no real public support.
• Bear states that I had a “mental breakdown” and “went crazy one day and started evicting tenants.” Further, he states that I had “no plans, no permits.”
The statement about a breakdown is simply ludicrous, and borders on the libelous. In late 2003 the owner of the Rialto Block was a company called Congress Street Investors LLC. I had a minority interest in that company and was one of four managers. Congress Street Investors had permitted construction documents for rehabilitation of the second floor of the Rialto Building and was ready to proceed with construction. Consequently, the building was vacated with more than 90 days’ notice to prepare for impending construction. Unfortunately, the managers decided not to proceed but that was not my decision.
The rehabilitation of the Rialto Building has been an earnest pursuit of mine for the last seven years; unfortunately, I was never in position of outright control of the project and it slipped from owner to owner, none of which have moved forward. Downtown revitalization is complex, risky and fraught with many obstacles.
• Bear’s opinion that the Rialto doesn’t need these spaces is baseless.
The Rialto Theatre of today is a professional music venue operating at a much higher level than it was previously. In its July 20, 2009, issue, concert industry trade publication Pollstar released its mid-year rankings of Worldwide Club Venues and the Rialto Theatre ranks number 42 worldwide in ticket sales, blowing away major venues in top 10 markets across the United States. The Rialto Theatre is one of the top 50 club venues in the world.
In the last six months, the Rialto Theatre Foundation has engaged in intensive efforts to ensure the protection of a historic theater owned by the citizens of Tucson and arguably one of the few success stories of the trouble Rio Nuevo project.
Our efforts to negotiate in good faith with Mr. Martin and Mr. Stiteler have been extremely frustrating. Unfortunately, for reasons that are not readily apparent, Mr. Martin and Mr. Stiteler have chosen to punish the Rialto rather than seek a cooperative, amicable and mutually beneficial resolution that would truly be in the community’s best interest. We continue to hope for a change in the context of this conflict.
Douglas Biggers is executive director of the Rialto Theatre Foundation.
Good grief. The free beer offer was a joke.
Ghostdog isn't me. I spoke to him this morning and I know I was having a telephone conversation with someone other than myself. I won't ID him, since he prefers to comment anonymously. He is someone with major Downtown connections who knows what he's talking about, unlike other obsessed posters on this blog.
yr humble servant,
This is a complicated matter, and there is a lot of outright disinformation in the posts above. Responding to all of the misstatements would take too long, and I’m not sure it really matters.
First, a mea culpa: Yes, I largely failed in my sincere efforts to rehab the Rialto block. In hindsight, there are many things I would have done differently, but for anyone who actually knows me, I think it’s obvious I gave it my all. I am far more interested in what happens next and in moving the Rialto Theatre and Downtown forward.
A few important facts:
• I didn’t “sell” the Rialto block to Don Martin in July 2008. He exercised an aggressive buy/sell provision in our LLC’s operating agreement that enabled him to make me an offer, giving me 30 days to match it or accept it. I tried mightily to raise the necessary capital, but failed at the last moment to raise the $1.7 million needed. It was a power play by Martin that was months in the making.
• During the course of our partnership Martin became increasingly obsessed with owning the Rialto Theatre. I believe this obsession continues to drive the current drama.
Initially I supported the notion that our company should consolidate all Rialto block property, including the Theatre, because it seemed like a way to accelerate improvements to the Theatre. We engaged with the City, the Foundation and attorneys to try to work it out in late 2007.
But the more we discussed this option, it became clear that Martin didn’t care about the mission of the Theatre Foundation, which is to be the steward of the historic venue and passionately provide the best quality programming for the benefit of the entire community.
He told me (and others) outright on several occasions that he didn’t “give a shit” about our mission. One of his ideas was to turn the Rialto Theatre into a private “millionaire’s” club.
• In a meeting with the Rialto Theatre Foundation board of directors in April 2008, he made another pitch to buy the Theatre, telling the board that he intended to immediately demolish the Green Room/Office building on Broadway to provide more parking.
• The eviction notice was served after negotiations for a month-to-month lease broke down. Martin and Stiteler were demanding nearly $45,000 in back rent for spaces Martin had offered for free multiple times. They were also demanding $15/square foot for a boarded up storefront and a building that was uninhabitable until the Foundation improved it at its own expense.
• We are requesting that the City purchase a mere 4,000 square feet at FAIR MARKET VALUE. We proposed in earlier negotiations to Stiteler and Martin that they could own the air rights above the space if they ever wanted to develop property along Broadway.
• A green room, however humble, is an essential facility for the traveling artists. Pollstar has ranked the Rialto Theatre in the top 100 club venues worldwide, despite our humble accommodations. Part of the building is an unfinished storeroom, lacking heating and cooling. Our staff works exceedingly long and stressful hours. We worked hard to create a functional and creative office space in a formerly bombed out building. It’s not a luxury but a necessity.
We have long-range plans and short-term goals of improving our concessions services, our dismal restrooms, circulation patterns and the overall patron experience. We have come far from our beginnings only four years ago, but we have much work to do.
As recent history demonstrates, it is true that the Rialto Theatre is dependent on the support of the adjacent property owner. Absent this support, the City must acquire this small amount of property and enable the Rialto Theatre to continue its successful operation and get on with its next phase of improvements.
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