ROCHESTER – Threshold Arts will have the opportunity to operate the historic Chateau Theatre.
Rochester City Council voted 5-2 for staff to work with the nonprofit to draft a three-year contract, which could be terminated earlier if long-term use of the building is set.
“The threshold will help us better understand what this space can be used for,” council chair Brooke Carlson said at Wednesday’s council meeting. “It is not necessarily a single use that we are aiming for.”
She said the goal was to have the building operational in the spring to coincide with new uses for the renovated Peace Plaza.
Threshold Arts was among three groups that presented plans to operate the facility last year, proposing a daily activation of the historic city-owned theater building. Plans call for a variety of artistic and cultural exhibits, as well as commercial and community spaces, with the possibility of private rentals.
Council member Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick, who represents the area that includes the castle, raised concerns about an indefinite outcome linked to the castle community, which was home to Threshold until the pandemic forced it to temporarily close his doors.
With Threshold Arts unable to operate under the state’s COVID restrictions, the owners of Castle Community have leased space on the second and third floors of the Old Armory at Echo Church. This arrangement led to the city ordering the owners to comply with an agreement that the building at the intersection of North Broadway Avenue and Second Street will be used as a community arts and culture space for a specified period.
The outcome remains uncertain, as the city extended its compliance order and first-floor tenant Cameo at the Castle filed a lawsuit in court over alleged violations of the restaurant lease it signed with Castle Community and Threshold Arts.
“I’m not comfortable rushing to activate this space until we know the status of the seller, Threshold Arts,” Kirkpatrick said, noting that the band may end up returning to the castle if Echo Church leaves.
Naura Anderson, founding director of Threshold, said she believes the organization can operate from its current storefront of 311 S. Broadway, the Castle and the Chateau Theater at the same time, with each location offering unique opportunities to connect residents and visitors to the arts.
Kirkpatrick was joined by council member Shaun Palmer in opposing a possible threshold deal, but Palmer sought to have the city’s library, parks and music departments operate the facility to provide a additional layer of flexibility for future operations. .
Kirkpatrick also considered flexibility, suggesting a one-year deal with Threshold, but deputy city administrator Aaron Parrish said the short term would pose challenges.
“It’s not really in line with activating as an event space,” he said, pointing out that Threshold would have to invest in space and bookings could expand beyond a month. year to recover expenses.
He said city staff could discuss including options for early termination of the contract if a long-term plan emerges. However, he also said it would likely take more than two years to come up with such a plan.
Kirkpatrick suggested direct council staff begin work on a 2018 proposal to turn the castle into a performing arts centre.
While several council members expressed a desire to see long-term use of the building, the last-minute suggestion did not receive the support needed to move forward.
The board should receive a negotiated contract with Threshold Arts at a later meeting.