NORWALK, Conn. – Efforts to renovate Norwalk's Globe Theatre moved ahead Thursday night when the developer detailed a plan for getting a $2 million federal fund while protecting Norwalk from financial risk.
Norwalk's Common Council then indicated a willingness to recommend the city advance his request for the $2 million federal loan on behalf of the theater.
"Your acceptance of the project allows plenty of other doors to open," said Frank Farricker of the Globe Theater Inc.
He reworked the loan request so it would be back-loaded and guaranteed by the Bank of West Texas so the city would not be at risk if the theater defaulted. Farricker said he would assume much of the risk and work harder to bring his dream of a performing arts theater on Wall Street to fruition.
The application for a $2 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development must be advanced by the Common Council to be considered by the federal government under the Section 108 loan guarantee program, which means it is guaranteed by the city.
The council's planning committee met for what it said was another meeting on the topic, a discussion that has been going on for months. It was inclined to deny Farricker's request because it could jeopardize future Community Block Development Grants if the theater defaulted. But Farricker came up with another option.
"We have a proposal that back-loads it," he said. "Almost all of the money would be the very last money that would be applied to the project. When it gets to that point, I hope that we don't need it."
Farricker asked that $275,000 be drawn down from CBDG funds, which would be guaranteed by a third party. Any money drawn from that amount would go through administrative channels. The remaining $1.7 million loan would be available once the theater renovation is complete. None of the money comes from the city's funds and instead comes from private banks. But Farricker needs the $275,000 up front so that he can qualify for tax credits.
"With that, I'm on the fast track to get the credits," he said. "If we fail, if we don't get our credits, your guarantee is trigger. I owe a bank in Texas money; the city of Norwalk is unharmed."
Members David McCarthy, Carvin Hilliard, Warren Pena, Doug Hempstead and Michael Geake voted to authorize Tim Sheehan, director of the Redevelopment Agency, to draft a resolution offering preliminary support for the proposal, pending further details. Matt Miklave voted against it.
The resolution gives Farricker the documentation he needs to move ahead. The $275,000 will go toward architectural plans, general maintenance and lawyer fees. Farricker also plans to apply for a $250,000 grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development.