AUBURN – Councilors stopped short of endorsing a plan to renovate the Great Falls Performing Arts Center, but they did accept a study Thursday night.

Councilors approved a 165-page study that calls for creating an umbrella group to oversee rents and management of the former Great Falls school. That building, off of Academy Street downtown, is home to the Community Little Theater as well as a number of arts, music and study groups.

“They checked to make sure that they were not endorsing it, but they did agree to accept it into the public record,” City Manager Glenn Aho said. Now, Aho said he plans to meet with representatives of the theater group to evaluate rental space, the rents charged to tenants and other issues.

“We need to validate, firsthand, what the study says,” Aho said.

Councilors have two plans before them for the 53,000-square-foot building.

Under the plan favored by the study, the city would help create a group to manage the facility. With city support, that group would fix safety and health issues right away and begin fundraising efforts. The group would divide the building’s space more efficiently, increase rents and make itself self-sustaining within three years.

Community Concepts Inc., a social service agency and developer, proposed a different plan. The group would take over the building from the city and develop half of it for affordable housing. Its work would be paid with tax credits and federal grants from Housing and Urban Development that Auburn receives. Community Concepts would leave the theater area untouched, letting the city and theater group figure out the uses for that building.

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