Mayor Chris Beutler today said a unique process to decide the future of Pershing Center will encourage "creativity, partnership and strong financial support" and give the City more options for the facility. Beutler announced that an Invitation for Redevelopment Proposals (IFRP) will be issued July 2, 2012, with submissions due October 1, 2012. This allows 11 months for proposals to be developed, rather than the traditional 60 to 90 days.
"We envision a spirited competition for a plan that describes the highest and best use of the Pershing property, provides the greatest bang for the buck for Lincoln's taxpayers and articulates a long-term vision for a key location along Centennial Mall," Beutler said. "The long time frame allows potential developers to dream bigger dreams for Pershing's future, thoroughly investigate financing options and explore potential partnership opportunities with other suitors."
The IFRP and detailed information on Pershing Center are available on a new website - pershing.lincoln.ne.gov. The Pershing Adaptive Reuse and Site Study completed in 2009 also is available at that website. The IFRP will be released nationally and is open to public, private and nonprofit entities. A Mayoral committee will examine the submissions and choose one of the proposals. The project may be eligible for tax increment financing,
The City owns the Pershing Center block bounded by Centennial Mall, 16th, "M" and "N" streets. Pershing has served as the City's main auditorium for more than 50 years and can no longer accommodate many events. In 2010, voters approved a new 16,500-seat arena in the West Haymarket area, and ground was broken for the project in September. The arena, which will be home to the UNL basketball program, is scheduled to open in fall 2013.
Beutler said the longer process also allows for a smooth transition for Pershing Center, which continues to host many events and generate revenues. The Mayor said Pershing will continue to honor existing commitments to event producers and local organizations.
The Mayor said the City will continue to have the option to sell Pershing to a private-sector buyer, putting it back on the tax rolls. "But simply offering Pershing for sale may sell the community short," he said. "Having only one method in determining Pershing's future denies us the opportunity to see all the possibilities that may be available. Some of those possibilities may be more lucrative to the community in the long run or represent a better use of a prime property."