Springfield forgives loan for theater
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | February 28,2013
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield has forgiven a $50,000 loan to the Springfield Housing Authority that it used to help reopen the Springfield movie theater, which was destroyed in a 2008 fire.
In a 4-0 vote, the Springfield Select Board agreed to change the original $50,000 loan to a grant. The money came from the town’s revolving loan fund, which is made up of money from federal loans that are being repaid to the town.
The $50,000 loan went to a subsidiary of the housing authority, Springfield Housing Unlimited, which the housing authority used to partner with Housing Vermont to rebuild the Ellis Block in downtown Springfield. The movie theater reopened in 2011.
Town Manager Robert Forguites said loan payments were slated to start Aug. 1, and he said the movie theater, which reopened l8 months ago, was starting to make money.
Several board members said it was important to keep the theater running, and said its presence was important to the downtown.
“It’s serving a worthwhile purpose,” said Forguites.
Forguites said the movie theater, which is owned by the housing authority, is now operated by two local residents, rather than a firm hired by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, which had assumed responsibility for the theater’s operation. He said the loan forgiveness was part of the town’s support of downtown revitalization.
William Morlock, executive director of the housing authority, said the new operators were doing a good job and were getting first-run movies promptly at the three-screen movie house. “It’s been a struggle,” he said.
The housing authority had to spend $145,000 for digital projectors, since all movies are switching from film to digital by 2014, Morlock said.
The loan for the theater was one of three grants and loans held by the Housing Authority or Springfield Housing Unlimited that the board agreed to modify Monday.
Forguites said the housing authority had put a lot of money into the theater, as well as the rebuilding of the Ellis Block, which now houses about a dozen apartments.
Other loans adjusted included a community development block grant loan to the Housing Authority to purchase Mountain View Apartments. The housing authority owes the town $926,768 in principal and interest, based on a 2 percent interest rate. The loan is due as a lump sum payment on Dec. 31, 2030.
Under terms of the new agreement, the interest rate was dropped to 0 percent, and the housing authority will start making monthly payments of $4,000.
The Select Board also agreed to change the interest rate on a community development block grant the Housing Authority received to help purchase Westview Apartments. There is still $376,153 owed. The interest rate will be reduced from 2 percent to 0 percent, and the Housing Authority has agreed to make monthly payments, with a balloon payment due on Dec. 1, 2015.
The Select Board also agreed to forgive a $24,000 loan the town made from its revolving loan fund to extend water and sewer to a seven-lot subdivision on Summit Avenue. Springfield Housing Unlimited has repaid $12,000 of the $36,000 loan.
The loan was used as part of $50,000 in sewer line extension to serve Summit Avenue. The housing authority is already $72,000 in debt for the small housing development, which is expected to add $1 million to the town’s grand list of taxable property.