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    Brian Keaney

    Artists Get Early Peek at Mother Brook Arts and Community Center

    by: Brian

    Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 14:29:01 PM EST

    I was asked to share the following with you all, and so without further ado:

    EAST DEDHAM - Artists looking for studio space will get an early peek at the new Mother Brook Arts and Community Center (MBACC) next week as the non-profit center opens its doors for the first time to potential tenants, according to MBACC co-director Sarah Blum.

    Blum said the organization has begun reach out to artists from Dedham and beyond who have previously contacted them in anticipation of the long-awaited opening of the center.  MBACC will be open to interested artists on Wednesday, February 6th, 3-7pm, Friday, February 8th 4 - 7pm, Tuesday, February 12th 10 - 12, and Thursday, February 14th, 10 -12.   Nearly two dozen artists have already contacted the organization looking for information.

    "We have lots of work to do but our aim is to begin renting artist studio space the first week of March" explained Blum. "The response so far has been very encouraging."

    The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously last week to approve a 10 year lease agreement with MBACC to operate the center, located at 123 High Street. The former Avery Elementary School became vacant in April following construction of a new Avery school on Pottery Lane.  An ad hoc town committee recommended re-using the 90 year old structure as a multi-purpose arts and community center.  MBACC, a new Dedham-based non-profit that formed last March, won the bid to create an arts and community center, renovate the 39,000 square foot facility and maintain the 3.8 acre grounds.

    While MBACC is not officially scheduled to take possession of the property until March 1, as part of the lease agreement the Town has agreed to allow MBACC to access the building in preparation for the transition.  Revenues from studio rents are a key component of the center's financing scheme, which calls on them to assume all financial costs of operating the center and maintaining the facility.  A percentage of proceeds from studio rentals will be paid as rent to the Town starting July 1, 2014. The non-profit board - all Dedham residents - was incorporated in March and has applied for tax-exempt status. In addition to operating revenues, MBACC will seek financing through local, state and federal grants and private donations.  

    For more information on MBACC, go to, or visit them on Facebook.

    Brian :: Artists Get Early Peek at Mother Brook Arts and Community Center
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    Town Meeting Disclaimers? (0.00 / 0)
    When the article at Town Meeting was discussed they should have given a disclaimer about the Town paying "No maintenance, repairs or expenses will be paid by the Town, the new Non-Profit will pay for everything." This was said multiple times and emphatically, as well.

    That's what was told to the Town Meeting Members, well, the Town has to pay for about half of Jan. and all of Feb. for Avery's oil heat bill and 50% for the cost to replace the heat boiler.  The total heat bill according to Bill K. was going to be about $10-15k and half the cost of replacing the boiler could be between $50-100k.

    Doesn't sound expense free to me!

    Also, the BOS did not allow any input from the residents regarding the lease agreement terms with the Non-Profit, before their executive session meetings.
    Talk about non-transparent.

    What happens if the Non-Profit runs into financial difficulties after 4-5 yr's?  

    The Facilities Dept. should have been told to do a complete rehab estimate so the residents could be able to compare what would be financially feasible before voting on only one approach at Town Meeting, the options should have been:

    1) Have the Town fix up the School itself and lease it a fair market rents or

    2) Lease it to a Non-Profit with a triple net lease for 10 years.

    Without this being done, and Town Meeting not being able to compare the two options to determine which is the most financially feasible, I guess we will never know?

    "the one and only approach at Town Meeting" (3.00 / 1)
    Residents had plenty of chance to give their input during the ten public meetings held by the Avery Re-Use Committee.  And what residents said was that having the building vacant, a  target for vandals, was their #1 concern. You can read the report here:

    I think it is remarkable that we found a renter so quickly. Especially because groups desperate for a new space (the police & seniors) decisively rejected the location.

    If we did opt to rehab the building, we would of course still be on the hook for utility bills for January and February.  And the next year or two as well.  All of which would have been dwarfed by rehab costs.  Instead, the Re-Use Committee found a way to get a renter in quickly who will not only cover those expenses, but may also be able to use grant funds to cover rehab cost.  I'd much rather have those grant dollars go to our community than have a tax bill increase to rehab the Avery. Town Meeting members approved the plan because it made good financial sense. And as a bonus, we are bringing an arts center to East Dedham.


    [ Parent ]
    A few things to consider (3.00 / 1)
    Perhaps you should read the lease. I suspect that if you do many of your questions will be answered.  In particular, you will see that

    Landlord and Tenant acknowledge and agree that, except as set forth in Section 8.4 below, this is an absolute triple net lease, and Tenant shall have the sole responsibility with regard to maintaining the Premises.

    Section 8.4 talks about the boiler, which is on its last legs and is a major reason the new Avery was built.  It is unreasonable to expect the this tenant to bear the brunt of that alone for a couple of reasons.  

    First of all, this is a brand new non-profit.  They simply don't have the resources to replace such a major capital item.  Should the boiler go in the first few months, or probably even in the first few years, it could cripple the Arts and Community Center.  That would not only rob the neighborhood and town of what I expect will quickly become a valued institution, but will also leave the Town with a vacant building, money pit, and vandalism target.  Where would we be then?

    Secondly, the idea of a triple net lease is typically that the landlord is building equity, not gaining cash flow.  Let's not forget that the Town is going to continue to own this building, and the tenant is going to make considerable repairs and upgrades to the physical plant - aside from and in addition to the boiler - while still paying rent.  If in 10 or 20 or 50 years the tenant moves out, the Town will have a renovated building with which we can rent to someone else, or use for another purpose.  

    On top of that (literally, in fact), the Town has reserved the right to put a cell phone tower on the roof.  The telecommunications company that potentially comes in is going to pay a pretty penny for the privilege, which will be even more money in our coffers.  

    Finally, I skimmed the transcript from Town Meeting, and I didn't come across anyone emphatically stating that the tenant would absolutely pay for everything.  The closest I could find was a Selectmen stating that the Town would not be giving a "subsidy" to the tenant.  I don't look at this is a subsidy.  Considering that the Town is going to continue to own the building and the boiler, I see it as getting a 50% discount on a boiler we would have to replace sooner rather than later if we held onto the building.

    What I did see in the transcript, however, was several people asking that the Town not have their hands tied so that they could negotiate the best possible deal.  I think that what they came up with was pretty fair and a good deal for all involved. - a community since 1636 and online since 2007!

    [ Parent ]
    I Agree... (0.00 / 0)
    I agree with the reasons why the Town did what they did, of course they don't want the building to sit vacant. My points were about not letting residents give any input into the lease terms, and at several meetings the BOS were pretty adamant about the Town not paying any expenses and did not clarify or mention the possibility that there might be some expenses before signing the lease, like the heat bill for a month and half, and after signing the lease and paying half the cost of a boiler.

    My other point was the residents still do not know without having been given the info. on repair estimates, the Town fixing it up on their own and leasing the building at markets rents(could still be a Non-Profit) at $35-40 per sq/ft.

    Not being able to compare and verify that the present lease is the best for the Residents is my main issue, again, we will never know until it's done?

    [ Parent ]
    More information (3.00 / 1)
    If you, or anyone else, wanted input on the terms of the lease, what stopped you from picking up the phone and calling any or all of the Selectmen?  The Mother Brook Community Group sent a letter to the Selectmen late last year letting them know some of the things we in the neighborhood wanted to see in the final agreement.  You could have done the same, or written a letter to the editor, staged a rally in front of Town Hall, spoken up at the public comment portion of a Selectmen's meeting, or even blogged about it here.  If you wanted input, there were plenty of opportunities.  

    Negotiating the lease took months and months - much longer than was originally hoped.  Both sides got some of what they wanted, and both sides gave up some of what they wanted.  That's the way it works.  

    You really think you could get a non-profit to take on a building that is falling down, agree to pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into it, and still pay $40 a square foot?  I'd like to see that non-profit.  

    Even if you could find one, I doubt they would be in the business of running an arts and community center.  Don't forget, after a year of meetings, hundreds of hours spent examining potential and private uses for the building, and listening to countless hours of residents offering their opinions, this is what they decided to do.  Perhaps there is a company out there who would be willing to pay that kind of rent, but that's not what residents wanted. - a community since 1636 and online since 2007!

    [ Parent ]
    Community (0.00 / 0)
    On the community side how does one get access to the gym and do you have to be a non profit to use the building.

    [ Parent ]


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