A flurry of postcards and emails being sent from City Hall promote Pershing Center as a site worth developing.
In case, you know, that wasn’t readily apparent to all Lincoln residents. But since local businesses have known the building has had an unofficial for-sale sign outside for more than six years and failed to produce a cost-effective use for the site, there’s no harm in reaching out coast to coast to let developers that otherwise would have been unaware know it’s available.
Though it’s a small action, it’s the most momentum toward the city’s goal of selling the old auditorium in years. The insignificant cost -- roughly $6,800 -- pales in comparison to the more than $100,000 the city funnels into Pershing for maintenance each year, especially if it yields tangible results.
Doing anything is better than doing nothing. And Lincoln had done a whole lot of nothing on Pershing since its final event in 2014.
Councilman Jon Camp deserves credit for forcing the closed arena along Centennial Mall back into the spotlight. Located a couple blocks off major thoroughfares, Pershing is out of sight and out mind for most Lincoln commuters who don’t frequently travel along 16th Street.
Though the Journal Star editorial board expressed concern about his initial plan requiring the site to go to a for-profit entity that would place it on the tax rolls, his insistence on ridding Lincoln of this financial drain has spurred action.
At first glance, the compromise approved last month by the Lincoln City Council -- in which the Urban Development Department would more aggressively market the building in hopes of a sale -- appeared to lack teeth. But the resolution’s requirement to pursue additional outreach materialized quickly.
And this blitz isn’t without cause for optimism.
The last time city leaders made this concerted of an effort to sell Pershing was in 2012, the year they decided to close Pershing as Pinnacle Bank Arena was being constructed a mile or so away. Their efforts yielded three proposals that ultimately made it to Mayor Chris Beutler’s desk. However, all were rejected because of what he considered their exorbitant costs to Lincoln taxpayers.
Perhaps this time around, a financially feasible plan will emerge for the Pershing site. After all, in an unrelated development, half of the block occupied by the auditorium is among more than two dozen proposals to house office space for state employees.
At long last, discussion for redevelopment of the Pershing Center is progressing on multiple fronts. Years of inaction have lowered the bar for what constitutes good news on this topic, but the city’s low-cost marketing campaign represents -- finally -- a smidgen of positive news from the long-vacant arena.