To the Editor:
Steve Schneider’s letter to the Editor on July 31, 2002 wonders why the ground level space in the Gaia Building is still unfinished. The reason is simple: The original tenant, the Gaia Bookstore, went out of business and never completed the improvements it had committed to make.
Our agreement with the city required us to set aside 10,000 square feet in the ground floor of the Gaia Building for cultural uses – an obligation that we fulfilled with our commitment to the Gaia Bookstore. Gaia was to have undertaken its own improvements in the space, and receive a long term lease starting at $1 per square foot, (roughly one-third of the current market value). When the Gaia Bookstore went out of business we offered the same terms to several other cultural groups and non-profits, including the Ecology Center, which decided to stay in its current location.
Most recently, we have worked with the Shotgun Players and Central Works to create a small performance venue. Neither could pay any monthly rent, but would contribute some funding toward the costs of creating the theater space. Unfortunately that appears to be more expensive than anyone anticipated. (The Aurora Theater recently spent upwards of $2 million to create its new theater in the Arts District.)
We have met the city’s requirements to provide space for cultural uses and have spent more than a year trying to find new tenants to take the Gaia Bookstore’s place. We are busy now with various tenants, arts groups and non-profits – including Shotgun and Central Works – to secure funding and complete the improvements.
I would welcome Mr. Schneider’s help and anyone else’s in making this happen.