COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Pictured is the Carnegie Center for the Arts in Three Rivers in July. The Three Rivers Woman's Club will be seeking an exit from the Carnegie after a new lease agreement with the CCA fell through last week, according to City Manager Joe Bippus.

TR Woman's Club seeking exit from Carnegie Center

THREE RIVERS — After helping to save the former Carnegie Library building 40 years ago and turn it into the Carnegie Center for the Arts, the Three Rivers Woman’s Club now could be making an exit from the building they have leased for decades.

In his comments to the Three Rivers City Commission during their meeting Monday, Three Rivers City Manager Joe Bippus told commissioners the Woman’s Club is seeking alternatives to its current space in the Carnegie building.

The move comes as the Woman’s Club and Carnegie Center for the Arts (CCA) leadership have been at an impasse for several months on a new lease agreement between the two parties. The main holdups for the last few months has been a key to the building for the Woman’s Club and access to the building for the Woman’s Club. The Carnegie Center has thus far been opposed to granting that access for security and insurance reasons.

The city currently owns the Carnegie building, but leases it to the Woman’s Club, who in turn subleases it to the Carnegie Center. In September, the city commission approved the sale of the Carnegie building to the CCA, contingent on a lease agreement with the Woman’s Club.

Bippus said in an interview the Woman’s Club received a lease option last week by the CCA, which was rejected.

“They voted to reject that lease, to not do it, and to find a new location to meet, and then allow the Carnegie Center to have their building and use it,” Bippus said. “I’m not privy as to why they voted it down.”

Bippus said in the last few months, the Woman’s Club have been exploring other options for meeting spaces, including A Place In Time and other buildings downtown. The Woman’s Club has also approached the Three Rivers Public Library in the past few weeks to inquire about using storage space at the new library for their historical documents.

Bippus said the Woman’s Club will seek a release so that they would not be held responsible for the cost of repairs that need to be made to the Carnegie building, which have been estimated to be around $200,000.

“We’re basically trying to get an agreement that says the Carnegie, the Woman’s Club and the city, none of us will sue each other or go after each other or pursue any legal action against each other for any violation of a lease agreement,” Bippus said. “I think everybody agrees that nobody’s interested in suing anybody.”

Bippus said the topic will be brought up at the next city commission meeting on Monday, Nov. 9.

In other business…

  • Commissioners approved a motion to apply for a Community Development Block Grant for American Axle to support an expansion project for the company. According to a background summary, the grant will be performance-based, with American Axle receiving $2 million in return for creating 100 new jobs. In addition, the company is expected to invest an estimated $37 million in machinery and equipment related to the project. The city will act as the fiduciary for the grant funds, and no matching funds are required.
  • Commissioners approved a draft ordinance for second reading to allow multiple and single-family dwellings in medium density residential zoning districts. The matter will go to a public hearing at a future meeting.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or

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