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The gallery at GWIZ has been closed to the public since September 2012, according to City Manager Tom Barwin, which has opened the door for the city to terminate its lease with the museum.
Sarasota Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 5 years ago

GWIZ in default of lease

by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Gulfcoast Wonder and Imagination Zone, or GWIZ, has had its gallery closed since September 2012. The website for the children’s science museum promises improvements following renovation: “We are working hard to bring you GWIZ 2.0!”

But, unless the museum works to comply with several violations of its lease over the next 3 weeks, GWIZ 2.0 may never come to be.

City Manager Tom Barwin sent a letter to GWIZ interim CEO Gregory Vulopas Aug. 22, which states GWIZ is in violation of its lease due to three different violations. If the violations are not addressed within 30 days, the letter states, Barwin has the right to terminate the lease agreement.

The violations are:

• A lack of building, landscape and parking lot maintenance.

• A failure to provide adequate insurance. The museum is required to provide insurance to cover 100% of the replacement value of improvements. The preliminary 2013 improvement value is around $2.5 million; only about $2 million is insured currently.

• Suspension of use of the facility. If the museum suspends its activities or discontinues its use of the lease for 60 consecutive days, the city can choose to terminate the lease. According to the letter, the museum gallery has been closed to the public since September 2012 and the Fab Lab has been operating only 22 hours per week.

The contact number listed on the GWIZ website for construction updates leads to an automated message, which says, “The party you are trying to reach is not currently accepting calls at this number.” As of March, the museum was expected to open in October at the earliest.

The City Commission is scheduled to receive a status report regarding GWIZ at its regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Contact David Conway at [email protected].

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