Civic Partners Bankruptcy

Empty space is advertised in the downtown Sioux City complex housing the Promenade Cinema 14 movie theaters, which opened in 2005. Much of the space in the complex remains vacant today.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal

An end to years of litigation related to what commonly is known as the Promenade complex in downtown Sioux City is, finally, in sight.

On Monday, the City Council gave unanimous approval to a proposed settlement with Civic Partners, the Huntington Beach, California, developer of the project. The agreement, if approved by a judge, will allow the city to recoup up to $1.45 million of the $2.5 million it spent on this ill-fated deal, which aside from the successful Promenade Cinema 14 movie theaters produced little of what was promised.

Our reaction to news of the settlement?

* The City Council was right to accept the proposed agreement with Civic Partners in order to end litigation and move forward.

"It's just time to get the final resolution," Mayor Bob Scott said on Monday. "It's not a great deal, but it's probably better than what we thought we'd get a couple years ago."

We agree with him.

* Removal of the litigation cloud from above the complex will mean removal of a significant barrier to filling additional space (aside from the movie theaters, only one other business leases space in the complex today). Local real estate officials have said they field offers on vacant retail space in the complex, but unsettled legal questions have prevented the completion of deals.

The settlement agreement is proposed at a time when construction of a new Courtyard by Marriott hotel across Fourth Street from the complex is planned. In our view, the hotel not only will provide a boost to the Convention Center next door, but should boost prospects for filling this complex.

More tenants for the complex will mean increased traffic in this area of downtown and more traffic should be beneficial to business for the movie theaters and for the other current tenant, 6 South Design, not to mention for the city's tax rolls.

- We understand risk is part of economic development and we wish to see our city remain competitive in this arena, but we believe it's wise for city government to review the decision-making process for its Civic Partners development deal in step-by-step detail to learn whatever lessons may be learned from the experience. (For example: Is it wise for the city to guarantee even a portion of a loan made to a private company?)

Taxpayers deserve to know local leaders will take proper steps to minimize the chance of something similar to the Civic Partners deal from happening in the future.

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