Failure not expected in Boathouse deal, says city

Kitchener's head of economic development says he doesn't "anticipate a failure in negotiations" with the remaining bidder looking to take over operational responsibilities of the Boathouse in Kitchener's Victoria Park.

A top Kitchener bureaucrat says he doesn't "anticipate a failure in negotiations" between the city and the sole remaining bidder vying for the operation of the Boathouse, a well-known bar and live music venue in Victoria Park.

Rod Regier, the city's executive director of economic development, told Craig Norris on The Morning Edition on Wednesday that the proposal submitted by Curt and Cory Crossman, who run the KOI Music Festival, and Bill MacTavish, who owns the Imbibe lounge in downtown Kitchener, is being evaluated by the city.

“They’ve got the resources to do the project. They’ve got the skills. They are currently in the business. I don’t see any reason why we would anticipate a failure in negotiations at this stage,” said Regier.

“If we do get to that point, we’ll figure out a plan B.”

His comments come after the only other bid for the operation of the city-owned venue was revoked.

Singer/songwriter Danny Michel and Ethel's Lounge owner Glenn Smith decided to drop their bid, citing a lack of clarity from the city when it came to the "serious questions," the duo had.

'They won't give us a straight answer'

“Somewhere in the middle, we didn’t quite meet,” Smith told CBC News. “I’ve just had far too many unanswered questions. They wanted me to jump through all of their hoops and they weren’t willing to jump through any.”

"I've been saying to the city all along 'what is the rent going to be?', and they wont give us a straight answer," Smith said.

But Regier said it is the bidders responsibility to suggest a fair rental rate as part of their business proposal.

"This is standard proposal process for us," Regier said.

"What we're asking the proponents to do is to crunch the numbers themselves and come up with a number for rent that would be reasonable," he said.

"The other proponent has chosen to do that, and we think it's a reasonable approach," Regier added.

The proposal by the Crossmans and MacTavish will be evaluated by a committee before staff makes a recommendation to council on December 2.

'Lets get this thing open by June'

Regier says the city envisions the Boathouse as a vibrant cultural venue with quality food and beverage services.

"We want to see that patio full in the summer time, we want to see live entertainment on a regular basis inside the building, we want it to become a part of the cultural life of the city," he said.

"We think that it's a good venue for lunch and we think it's also a great venue for evenings and particularly for evening and afternoon matinee entertainment on weekends."

The city has been looking for a new operator after the previous one, Kevin Doyle, was forced to leave after falling behind on rent and utilities.


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