The Herald Bulletin

December 24, 2013

Committee supports Wigwam proposal

Decision could be reached by March 1 deadline

By Ken de la Bastide The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — The Blue Ribbon Committee looking into preserving the historic Wigwam complex voted Monday to support the proposal from a Florida investment group.

The Blue Ribbon Committee met for the first time with Terry Thimlar and Mark Rowe, the founders of Wigwam Sports and Entertainment (WSE) LLC known as “Revitalize the Wigwam.” Interim Anderson Community Schools Superintendent Tim Edsell attended the meeting along with city officials.

The committee reviewed the WSE plan and encouraged further dialogue with the community and other stakeholders.

“Members of the Blue Ribbon Committee have reviewed the plan to bring the Wigwam back to life and are encouraged by the plan’s potential,” Thomas J. Snyder, the committee chairman, said.

“The plan is using the facility for a broad-based variety of sporting events and small- and mid-sized concerts, too big for the Paramount Theatre,” he said.

ACS estimates that it will cost between $3 million and $5.5 million to preserve the building and an additional $3.1 to $4.1 million investment to make the facility usable.

ACS officials said they want a viable plan for the Wigwam complex by March 1 or will go forward with demolition.

Snyder and Thimlar both believe an agreement could be reached by that date. Snyder said there are wide variations in the cost estimates to rehabilitate the building. He said a study of the facility by CSO Architects didn’t provide a definitive cost estimate.

Snyder said the WSE plan is looking at long-term renovation to make an empty building usable.

“The new investors want to take an incremental approach,” he said. “Renovate the building over time. The restoration of the Paramount Theatre took the incremental approach.”

Thimlar said the plan is to rehabilitate the Wigwam complex gradually to bring it back to where it was.

“We will be in a position to move forward on March 1,” he said. “We started funding months ago and continue on a daily basis.”

Thimlar said he has been working on the project for over two years and has visited Anderson 14 times during that time.

“I believe our plan is viable,” he said. “There is a strong possibility we’re going to get to the finish line. The community has to rally behind the effort.”

Thimlar said there is open dialogue with Anderson Community School Corp.; he said the school system understands the iconic building the Wigwam is.

Snyder said the classroom space could be used for adult education and other programs.

“I believe we can see something at a document stage by March 1,” Snyder said.

ACS wants some assistance in paying the $12,000 to $15,000 per month utility costs after March 1, he said.

Thimlar said utility costs are a part of the conversations with ACS.

The committee also supports the ongoing dialogue between Anderson Community Schools, WSE, and city officials and hopes that education will be a part of the plan.

WSE informed the Committee that it would be offering other methods of community engagement next week.

Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.