$24 Million For Five Flags? Dubuque City Council Votes Yes
In an update from the Telegraph Herald, Dubuque City Council members voted Monday (12/19) to invest $24 million into improving the Five Flags Center. Council members unanimously approved a proposal to use funds to make a number of improvements to the center over a five-year period. The first 18 months of the project will be devoted to design and engineering. Current plans will keep the facility open while construction is in process. Specifics of what improvements will be made have not yet been determined.
The city plans to use $6 million in downtown urban renewal debt capacity already committed to the Five Flags, along with $18 million in downtown urban renewal debt capacity. The $18 million was originally committed to building a new parking ramp downtown as part of a development agreement with Roshek Property LLC, Cottingham & Butler and HTLF.
This project would not require a public vote of approval for the funding to be used. The project also would aim to not preclude any future initiative to open up the north wall of the center at Fifth Street in order to create an indoor/outdoor venue space.
Earlier this year, council members also unanimously voted NOT to go forward with a referendum that would have asked residents to approve the city borrowing up to $92 million for a project that included demolishing the existing arena, building a larger replacement that could seat about 6,400 and expanding across West Fifth Street, and making improvements to Five Flags Theater.
Original story below:
According to reports from the Telegraph Herald there’s big developments with the Five Flags Center in Dubuque as interim general manager Aaron Rainey has officially been named to the permanent role and the Dubuque City Council tours the facility in support of investing $25 million.
While no official action was taken at the work session by council members, city staff plans to have a council vote December 19th on whether to commit funding to the project. During the work session, City Council members toured the Five Flags Center and focused on items that city officials say must be improved. This work session came after city staff presented a new proposal with a focus on smaller renovations to Five Flags Center, rather than pursuing a new, larger facility.
The new proposal suggests investing $25.8 million over a 15-year period. This will make repairs and renovations to Five Flags Center without expanding its current footprint. For the first two years, the city would conduct a substantial renovation of the facility. The last estimate in 2018 was a cost of around $18 million. However, additional needs at Five Flags Center have since been identified. Over the following 13 years, smaller improvements would be made through capital improvement projects.
The city plans to use $6 million in downtown urban renewal debt capacity which has already been committed to Five Flags Center to fund the intial renovation. They are doing this by allocating funds from an $18 million downtown urban renewal debt capacity that was originally committed to building a new parking ramp downtown; part of a development agreement with Roshek Property LLC, Cottingham & Butler and HTLF. Council members agreed to delay the parking ramp project for the foreseeable future to free up funding. If the City Council does approve directing the funding toward Five Flags Center, city leaders would take time to determine what improvements they want to prioritize. Those items included expanding bathrooms (a main priority), replacing the roof, upgrading the arena’s lighting, and enhancing the overall seating and accessibility.
In addition to initial renovations, a proposal from the Dubuque Civic Center Commission would like to open up the north wall of the arena at West Fifth Street to create outdoor event space next to the facility. The Civic Center Commission suggested in a letter that the city move forward with smaller renovations, with the possibility of pursuing its proposal for an outdoor event space in the future.