Pineville leaders aren’t sure what their role in the Civic and Cultural Arts Center of Pineville should be.
And neither does Lee Baumgarten, the center’s executive director.
“It’s really kind of a strange thing. We are a non-profit organization and the town of Pineville is our strongest supporter – financial supporter,” Baumgarten said. “We’ve had a good relationship as far as that goes; it’s always been good. Now it’s a matter of what degree do they want that relationship?”
The discussion comes after CCAC reached out to town leaders for help after learning its current low-rented space in downtown Pineville, which is owned by the Mecklenburg County Landmarks Commission and currently up for sale, had a cash offer. CCAC potentially would have been left without a home. The offer has since fell through, but the urgency is still there, Baumgarten said, as the space already isn’t adequate in size and the Landmarks Commission could get another offer any day. CCAC has explored other options, but doesn’t have funding for increased rent rate or to purchase new space on their own.
But town leaders aren’t sure what the best option would be, either. They’ve explored town-owned property like two houses at 306 Dover St. and 402 Dover St., but the houses are in bad condition. Renovation costs alone, which would come at the town’s expense, could easily surpass $250,000, according to estimates conducted by town staff. But the two homes together still may not be adequate space for CCAC’s offices and future program growth. Those homes would likely be a Band Aid fix with a high price tag.
A vacant storefront on Main Street also is up for grabs for CCAC, but the space is just too small. CCAC could look outside of Pineville’s historic downtown, but that means sacrificing their preferred location and a big increase in rental costs.
Haynes Brigman, the town’s administrator, said Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Pineville Town Council meeting that there could still be more options for CCAC’s new home, but some councilmembers are starting to question if it’s the town’s responsibility to find the right solution.
“If we are going to put a lot of money into this type of thing, then we need to bring them in to be an entity of the town,” Councilman Les Gladden said at the meeting. “We need to have more oversight. If we are going to get in this, then let’s get in. If we’re not going to get in, then let’s part ways. I don’t see us spending a dime until we know what our part in this is going to be.”
But Baumgarten doesn’t feel the same way. He’s not open to the idea of having town staff as oversight for CCAC. Nor is he thrilled with the option to make CCAC a town entity under the Parks and Recreation Department.
“If they start supplying us with town facilities, then they may want something in return,” Baumgarten said, in agreement that it’s time for CCAC and the town to start negotiations. Different degrees of the relationship can exist, he said, but that’s all it can be – a relationship. He’s thankful for the town’s help with the finances and things like the CCAC’s recently completed business plan that outlined the nonprofit’s inadequacies and efficiencies. “I’m not sure having a town employee here is a solution – I’m not sure how that would help.”
And as far as incorporating the nonprofit under parks and recreation, “You can’t take an independent organization and put it into another independent organization, it just wouldn’t work,” Baumgarten said.
If the town helps secure CCAC a space, Baumgarten said he would be more than happy to continue and expand the nonprofit’s mission in creating more of a cultural and civic aspect of the center, as well as music and more performing arts, which would be an asset to Pineville. That’s been the vision from the start, Baumgarten said, adding in order to be able to encompass all those needs, it would take at least an 8,000-square-foot space. Right now, at about 3,000 square feet, CCAC’s programs are “overlapping on top of each other,” Baumgarten said.
“I’ve been asking all along that we need a larger space and a forever home,” he said. “I have made it clear to Pineville that we’ll work with them as much as they want to work with us, as long as we are mutually on the same ground and are finding new solutions.”