It looks like the Lincoln County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau will look for a new home from their office near Howard Johnson’s motel on So. Dewey, about a block from the Platte River Mall. At first, it looked like the Visitor’s Bureau has until Oct. 1 to move out, County Commissioner Joe Hewgley said Monday at the county board meeting, referring to a notice from the property owner, Wilkinson Development.
But Mark Wilkinson of Wilkinson Development said Wednesday morning that the CVB technically would have until Nov. 30, 2013 to move.
Attitudes Salon, in the same complex, received 30 days notice to move, owner Lisa McClellen said. They have rented salon space there for 14 years. She said the notice doesn't violate her lease but it presents unexpected challenges. (see McClellen's letter on the opinion page)
Wilkinson said the property will be redeveloped, but he did not immediately say what would be located there. He said plans are in the works but indefinite, and a lot depends on the Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
Wilkinson said he hopes the CVB would vacate this year, even as soon as Oct. 1. He would arrange for a temporary location, and the CVB could rent space in the new redevelopment at no extra cost. Wilkinson Development would pay the CVB's moving costs, he told the Bulletin.
Wilkinson said the lease with the CVB provides for termination if either party gives 180 days notice, but technically the lease has to run until Nov. 30, 2013, unless both parties agree.
The CVB, which operates under the authority of the Lincoln County Commissioners, works to bring more visitors to North Platte and the county.
The CVB brought the notice to the attention of the commissioners Monday, and the county board appointed Hewgley to negotiate with Wilkinson. Hewgley said he would start promptly, noting that there are at least a couple years left on the lease agreement.
The CVB moved into the office, the former home Century 21 real estate, in December 2010. Encouraged by a five-year lease, they erected a new digital sign welcoming visitors and listing events of interest.
The rent was set at $3,000 a month, utilities included, CVB executive director Lisa Burke said at the time.
During a related discussion, Mike Groene of the Nebraska Taxpayers Association noted that CVB items in the county's 2012-13 budget are significantly higher. For instance, the lodging tax improvement fund that the visitor’s center administers has grown to more than $1 million, and there is $873,000 in a similar lodging tax fund.
The money accumulates from taxes paid by overnight visitors at motels.
Groene also noted that $684,000 is budgeted for capital outlays in the improvement fund, compared to $82,000 that was spent last year for the same thing.
He asked if the CVB is going to build a new building – a prospect that has raised the ire of taxpayer advocates in the past.
Hewgley said the money is there, and it has to be put into budget categories.
“We budget it every year,” Hewgley said. “It won’t be spent without advance notice -- at least I hope it won't.”
In 2007, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau drew up plans to build a $1 million tourism center next to the 20th Century Veteran’s Memorial at the junction of I-80 and U.S. Highway 83 junction, but the costly plan did not materialize.