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Waldron sale to Ivy Tech gets final OK

Community college to invest $500,000 in arts center in first year

By Michael Malik 331-4370 |
May 6, 2010

The Bloomington City Council has cleared the way for Ivy Tech Community College to become the new owner of the John Waldron Arts Center.

The council’s unanimous approval Wednesday night was the last major obstacle to a deal that likely saved the Waldron from being shuttered.

John Whikehart, chancellor for Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus, said the college plans to invest $500,000 in the property during the college’s first year of ownership.

“We’re committed to doing that because it’s extremely important to us and to the community,” Whikehart said. “I really see this action as a defining moment for Ivy Tech in its goal to be a truly comprehensive community college.”

The deal will allow the community college to operate the building as a community arts center and provide a rent-free space for local community radio station WFHB, while also basing its center for lifelong learning in the building.

Council members were set to approve the deal two weeks ago, but decided to delay the vote because they felt they didn’t have enough time to review the agreement.

As a result, officials from WFHB, Ivy Tech and the city took more time to iron on the details of the deal, specifically what Ivy Tech gets for providing a rent-free space to the nonprofit radio station. For example, WFHB will say they partner with Ivy Tech in their program and station announcements as part of their agreement.
City councilman Chris Sturbaum said the result was a positive end to the situation.

“I think this really puts community in community college,” Sturbaum said. “I think we’ll see over time that this has been a wonderful save.”

The Bloomington Area Arts Council made headlines in January, when it announced it needed to raise $120,000 or it would be forced to close the Waldron March 1. In early March, the city bought the Waldron’s assets from the Bloomington Area Arts Council for $150,000. The March deal also stated the arts council had to use the city’s $150,000, which came from tax increment financing district funds, to pay off its debt.

As part of Ivy Tech’s plan to take over the Waldron, the college will pay the city $150,000 so it can refund the money it used to buy the Waldron from the arts council.

John Waldron Arts Center
The south side of the John Waldron Arts Center is seen in this view from Fourth Street, with the studios of WFHB community radio station in the one-story area at left.
Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

John Whikehart
John Whikehart, chancellor for Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus.
H-T file photo
Copyright: 2010