VENTURA, Calif. - Brooks Institute was in the process of moving its campus to Ventura's downtown area when, without notice, the photography and visual arts school decided to close instead.
"They were leasing property from us, the city, a building right next to city hall. They were leasing other properties downtown. They were going to have a downtown campus that included several properties. It was an exciting opportunity. We were really looking forward to having them downtown and we are really disappointed they are not going to be here," said Ventura's City Manger Mark Watkins
The school was in the process of completely renovating the spaces, including two floors of the city's office building behind city hall. Now, that space is a ripped up construction zone, and besides the mess, Brooks allegedly owes the city thousands of dollars in back rent.
"They owe the city about $60,000, a combination of monthly rent and security deposit. After entering the lease with us they actually never made a single payment. We were in the process of going through collections when they let us know that they are not indeed going to be moving downtown and that indeed they are closing their doors," said Watkins.
Besides the contract with the city Brooks Institute has five and ten-year leases signed for three downtown buildings operated by Jim DeArkland of OFI Management.
"It is really sad. It is really disappointing. Our company and the city, we all made major concessions for them to move here and incent them to be part of all of this, and then all the time and energy that we put in is gone," said DeArkland.
Students had their last day of class last Friday. The school says its last day in business will be October 31st.