Santa Clarita City Council on Tuesday approved the $14.5 million purchase of the property hosting Valencia Ice Station, a 20-year-old local rink that had been skating on thin ice ever since the coronavirus outbreak in March.
The city will buy the two-story facility, the 4-acre property it stands on, and accompanying assets.
On Wednesday, Valencia Ice Rink founder Roger Perez said he felt elated by news of the city’s rescue of the facility.
“Very, very happy!” Perez told the Business Journal. “It’s a very good thinking that we were able to save the building for its intended purpose.”
For two decades, the 93,000-square-foot ice-skating facility has been considered a community hub and economic engine by many in Valencia, and so the city wanted to find a way to salvage the business. In July, a closed-door session was held to discuss the fate of Valencia Ice Station, which has been in a freefall since its mid-March closure as a non-essential business.
“The primary use of the Ice Station would continue to be as a hub for ice skating, hockey and recreation skating, but, in addition, there would be occasions to supplement the use of the facility for economic development opportunities,” read a city of Santa Clarita statement issued just prior to Tuesday’s vote.
City officials eye the rink’s potential as “a larger public facility to increase local hotel patronage and induce visitor spending, with the goal of boosting economic activity and generating local tax revenues.”
On May 6, during a period of intense community support to keep the rink open, Perez spoke to the Business Journal the day after he had a phone conversation with Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth about the issue. At the time, Perez was at a crossroads. According to him, the facility was not able to generate revenue and his landlord was considering a sale of the property.
“I’m in liquidation form,” Perez told the Business Journal at the time. “We’ve exhausted (our avenues). Once you dismantle this building, there’s no getting back to it.”
For now, it remains unclear if Perez will remain on board to operate the business in either the long or short term.
“I don’t know right now,” Perez said on Wednesday. “We haven’t defined what that is now. There’s been discussion of how do you this and how do you do that. All I pledged is to be available through transition.”
He does anticipate that he may be useful as they reactivate the site.
“They’re going to need my help,” Perez said. “This is a building that I built. I know where everything is.”
Perez wants to see this new iteration work as it is his “legacy,” he said.
“I hope they follow our business model,” he continued. “It was a business model that’s worked for 20 years. It can easily be a real profit center for them.”
Ultimately, right now, it’s too early to tell.
“They need to figure out what their needs are as the operating entity.