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County Board to Vote on Artisphere Lease Termination

Photo taken during the Artisphere press preview 10/6/10The Artisphere cultural center in Rosslyn closed in June, but on Saturday the County Board is expected to shut the door for good by terminating Artisphere’s lease.

Arlington County leased the 62,000 square foot former Newseum space at 1101 Wilson Blvd in November 2008. It opened Artisphere on Oct. 10, 2010.

Intractable financial losses at Artisphere — contrary to rosy projections made prior to the center’s opening — combined with a lack of local community participation to doom it. An effort to have the Artisphere space used for a tech incubator and conference center apparently fell through, leading to the lease termination recommendation from county staff.

Not helping matters: it costs about $1 million per year to maintain the space, including electricity, heating and air conditioning costs. Building owner Monday Properties, which gave the space to Arlington virtually rent free, will now be free to attempt to find a new tenant.

Under the staff recommendation, the lease will be terminated on Oct. 31. Arlington County will owe the landlord payments totaling $447,436.24 in order to exercise the early lease termination. (The lease was originally slated to end in April 2023.)

Negotiations regarding the early lease termination have cut the county’s total costs by more than $100,000, staff said.

The money will come from $1.3 million in funding already allocated by the County Board for the closing of Artisphere. The total cost of the facility’s shuttering is not yet available.

“Other expenses associated with the closure of the facility are still processing and a final estimate of the total closure costs will not be available until all invoicing is complete and internal accounts are reconciled,” county staff wrote.

The County Board will consider the lease termination at its meeting this coming Saturday.

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