The Tango Center in downtown Eugene is a unique institution with a perhaps not so unique set of problems.
The owners of the building have not given the Tango Center a lease for four years. This, by itself, would have made it difficult enough to keep the operation going, since it is very hard to maintain and improve a place when you could be kicked out in 30 days, at any time.
The Tango Center might have been able to organize its large community to buy its building, if it hadn't needed to fight twice to keep the entire neighborhood from being leveled. This catastrophic plan was launched once by the owners of the building, and then again by the City of Eugene. The last time, we had to organize a ballot measure to take funding away from the City's Urban Renewal district. We won that election easily -- no one trusts the City government to spend money wisely. And they are quite correct not to -- downtown is littered with craters where buildings should be. If the City had received the Urban Renewal funding it wanted, four City blocks would have been leveled, 25 local businesses destroyed, and in this economy, where OPUS and WG, the developers for those plans, are abandoning projects around the country, the downtown would have been flattened, and become a giant crater where no construction would happen for a decade.
But, somehow, through all this, The Tango Center still managed to hold the most amazing, life-changing dances. We hold 25 events a week and bring 1,000 people downtown each week. 10,000 people have taken Argentine Tango lessons in a City of 150,000. Over 10% of the population has partaken of some kind of event at The Tango Center.
We have one last chance to save the place. We're asking the City Council to buy the building, so that we can continue to hold all-ages dances, and so we can then buy the building back from City. Come to the Council Public Forum today, February 23, 2009, by 7:15pm, at City Hall, and speak your mind for 3 minutes.