PLATTEVILLE — The Platteville Common Council decided the fate of two loan requests from the city’s Downtown Redevelopment Authority for two downtown buildings next to each other July 10.
The first loan request, $175,000 for digital projection equipment at the Avalon Cinema, was approved 6–1.
The second, to roll over the $292,757.57 loan for the Bayley Building, 85 E. Main St., was rejected 4–3.
The loan was essential to keeping the Avalon’s three screens showing movies. The Motion Picture Association of America is requiring theaters to convert to digital projection by the end of the year.
“I’d be closing probably” without the loan, said Duane DeYoung, who owns both the Avalon and the Millennium Cinema off East Business 151. The six-screen Millennium can get conventional financing, but “This facility doesn’t generate enough revenue to be able to pay for this — the numbers just aren’t there.”
The Avalon’s closing would have affected the movies the Millennium would be able to get, because films are chosen for markets based on the number of screens in the market, DeYoung said.
The Avalon opened in 1930, but closed in 1990. A group of Platteville residents raised $100,000 to convert the Avalon to a three-screen complex. The Avalon reopened in 1994, and the paid-off loan created the Building Platteville revolving loan fund. DeYoung bought the Avalon in February 2005 and the Millennium in April 2007.
The loan is a 1.9 percent seven-year loan from Mound City Bank.
DeYoung hopes to convert to digital projection at the Avalon in September. Films initially will be run from a file server, but the Avalon and the Millennium will get films via satellite within 12 to 18 months.
District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian voted against the Avalon loan.
The Bayley Building houses Change of Seasons on the first floor and apartments on the second floor. The owners face a balloon payment due Aug. 1. The vote was to roll over the $292,757.57 loan that was originally borrowed in 2007.
“It just isn’t assessing out at a rate it was projected to assess to,” said District 3 Ald. Barb Daus, chair of the Redevelopment Authority.
Aldermen questioned why the city didn’t try to get bids on the loan, instead of just rolling over the loan at 3.3 percent interest.
Common Council candidate Michael Mayo spoke out against both loans.
“Is the City of Platteville becoming a bank?” he said. “If you’re not going to take the responsibility, why should the taxpayers of the city take the responsibility?”
Kilian, at-large Alds. Steve Becker and Dick Bonin and Common Council President Mike Dalecki voted against the rollover.
The council also voted to apply for a Wisconsin Department of Transportation Facilities for Economic Assistance grant for a road project in the Platteville Industry Park, more than two hours after it voted to table the same application.
The grant is to fund about $600,000 in construction of a road in the Industry Park, with WisDOT paying for half and the city paying for half.
City Manager Larry Bierke said preliminary talks with WisDOT included a match that would cost the city about $300,000, either funded through debt or through Tax Incremental Financing District 4, which includes the industrial park.
Bierke said the city’s not receiving a Community Development Block Grant meant “we’re going to have to cut that project back significantly.” The original plan had been to construct Vision Drive for more than $1 million, but the city will probably fund improvements to Evergreen Road instead.
The vote to table the grant application was 5–2, with Becker and Dalecki opposing. After the vote, Bierke said WisDOT was prepared to give the city the grant.
“I don’t think we should be in the process of turning down free money,” said Dalecki.
More than two hours later, after a work session on city dispatch services and the city’s 2013–17 street improvement plan, the council voted to take the grant application off the table, then unanimously approved submitting the grant.