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The Strand, which already costs us more than we earn from it, is about to become even more costly, FAA News has learned.

You are most likely familiar with The Strand building in the heart of the Downtown section of Lakewood.

There is a theater / gallery room as well as additional bar / banquet hall on the ground floor, and residential apartments upstairs.

It is a historic, 100 year old building, built in a time when Lakewood was a popular playground for the rich and famous, and it aimed to encourage Broadway producers to utilize it as a tryout theater before moving their shows to Broadway.

The building is owned by Lakewood Township. It used to be maintained by the Lakewood Development Corporation, one of the arms of the Township. A couple of years ago it was transferred over to the Lakewood Industrial Commission, another arm of the Township which also oversees the Lakewood Airport and is supposed to promote commercial growth in the industrial parks.

Recent financial documents continue to reveal that the utilities and maintenance for the upstairs residential apartments cost us more than the rent revenue they bring in.

Their bank account ledger, as shown below, indicates that they started the 2023 year with $192,622.85, and they are now DOWN to $179,775.98.

Wondering how this makes any sense?

You're not alone!

As shown in the video clip below, at the LIC's meeting back in May, Board Member Shlomo Katz - who rarely shows up to any LIC meeting - popped in and asked some uncomfortable questions regarding The Strand. He stated, "we were given The Strand thinking that we would break even, however, after reviewing the Statement of Accounts, if someone today asked me point blank if we are breaking even, making, or losing, from The Strand, I would have no clue what to answer them, and I don't think this is fair to the taxpaying public!"

Instead of figuring out how to deal with this uncomfortable question, the LIC began to withhold publishing their financial reports which they previously published monthly!

Anyways, in addition to their regular financial headache, LIC officials have decided they now also need to expend on a costly roof repair.

The exact cost is not yet known as the LIC is still soliciting bids for the project.

Township officials had a great opportunity earlier this year to bring in real revenue from The Strand. Of course, Township officials did not fail to fail us on that one!

Over 20 years ago, on July 1, 2002, the Lakewood Development Corporation signed an amazing, 20 year-long lease with Strand Ventures, Inc. for usage of the first floor Strand Theater and banquet hall.

(Fun fact: According to public records obtained by FAA News, for the year ending 2020, Strand Ventures included in their list of officers a number of Lakewood Township officials, including members of the Industrial Commission Robert Kirchner, Tom Calabaro, Greg Stafford-smith, LIC Executive Director Steven Reinman, CDBG Director Ervin Oross, Shade Tree Commission member Craig Theibault, and Mayor Ray Coles. Curiously, for the year ending 2021, of the Township officials, only Steve Reinman and Craig Theibault remained on their list of officers.)

Per the terms of this lease, Strand Ventures keeps the revenue from renting out the theater and banquet hall, as well as from selling concessions at all theater events, and is responsible to maintain the day-to-day general upkeep and cleanliness of the theater. They are also supposed to pay for the utilities they use. The owner gets charged for these utilities and the tenant is required to repay for the utilities when the owner demands repayment.

The owner is responsible for snow and removal, and financing and construction of capital improvements to the preservation of the historic building.

The annual lease that the tenant pays to the owner?

As first reported here on FAA News, it was a grand total of $1. Yup.

Once this lease finally expired in July 2022, the Industrial Commission which is the new owner of the building, had a great opportunity to search for an actual paying tenant.

However, as previously reported here on FAA News, the LIC worded their Request for Proposals for a new tenant in a certain way to ensure they could safely renew their prized $1 annual lease!

Despite all these efforts, the LIC did in fact receive a number of bonafide more revenue producing offers.

Luckily, the LIC did NOT fail to fail. As previously reported here on FAA News, despite having received more revenue producing offers, and despite having received input from members of the public who called on them to accept the highest offer, the LIC went out of their way, above and beyond, to renew the $1 lease!

Regarding the residential apartments, as previously reported here on FAA News, despite that they cost more than they bring in, the LIC saw no reason to not renew their property management contract.

Curiously, despite all these concerning issues, the LIC has unfortunately not been very forthcoming with any transparency. As previously reported here, here, here, and yet again here on FAA News, the LIC has heroically used their virtual meetings to shy away from prying eyes asking uncomfortable questions regarding their finances.

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1 comment:

a piece of my mind said...

So who was the one that signed the lease?

There should be individuals held personally responsible to the tax payers through their care less misconduct.

Apparently we only prosecute helpless citizens or the occasional murderer but never tax payer appointed money handlers.