The town of Taos will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for repurposing its convention center facilities on Civic Plaza Drive.
The Town Council approved a draft RFP at its March 26 meeting, with town leaders describing the convention center buildings as expensive and underused.
“This is one of the council’s top priorities,” town manager Oscar Rodríguez said. “In fact, it is it’s top priority.”
The convention center includes: Río Grande Hall (7,536 square feet), Bataan Hall (6,052 square feet), Coronado Hall (5,400 square feet), Don Fernando Hall (4,752 square feet) and the Camino Real Building.
The town currently has four leases, three of which expire in 2015, in the convention center: with Northern New Mexico College for space in El Pueblo Hall; with High Altitude Athletics for space in Don Fernando Hall; with Veteran’s Services for space in Coronado Hall; and with UNM-Taos for space in the Coronado Building.
The town also has events, such as fairs, conferences and weddings, scheduled through December. Rodríguez said applicants will be asked to take those events into account.
The RFP lays out requirements for proposals, including that they must demonstrate financial solvency, pay for all operations and maintenance costs, pay for any necessary capital improvements, not request a subsidy from the town, maintain the buildings’ architectural integrity and propose a lease not to exceed 20 years.
Initially, the RFP would have required that applicants make space available for public uses, but the council decided against it. Instead it will be weighted as the town scores any proposals it receives.
Other weighted preferences are also established, including the amount of revenue proposals would generate for the town, the level of financial solvency, the dollar value and priority schedule for any capital improvements, a plan for accommodating existing tenants, maintenance of the architectural integrity of the building, experience and qualifications and the length of the proposed lease.
Rodríguez said many aspects of the RFP are left open-ended to encourage creative and collaborative proposals.
“There’s a lot of flexibility here,” he said.
He said the town is encouraging applicants to come together and submit one proposal so the town can look at “one comprehensive thing” versus piecemeal proposals.
Rodríguez said he will not recommend the council approve any proposal that costs the town more, such as if it had to move its chambers out of Coronado Hall and invest in a new place to hold meetings.
Councilor Rudy Abeyta said he likes the idea of the RFP in order to increase the use of the “marginally used” buildings and help the town financially.
“We’ve really got to get out of the convention center business,” he said.
Mayor Darren Córdova said the council will decide whether to accept any proposals the town receives.
“All of this is subject to council approval,” he said.
Rodríguez said he hopes to bring proposals before the council in May.
“We’re being very ambitious here,” he said.