Florida Repertory Theatre’s leadership and Board of Directors announced it has purchased the Bradford block in downtown Fort Myers, which contains the Historic Arcade Theatre, ArtStage Studio Theatre, and other Florida Rep facilities, as well as the parking lot across Bay Street.
This milestone purchase was made possible by multiple transformational gifts from a group of anonymous donors, given solely for the company to purchase the property. The acquisition secures the company’s future into its next 21 years and beyond.
“For the first time in our 21-year history, we will own the theatre and the parking lot,” said Florida Rep Board chairman Marc Laviolette. “It gives us the self-determination which we never had and the opportunity to apply for grant dollars that were unavailable because we didn’t own our facility.”
In addition to the theatre’s two stages, other facilities, and the parking lot, the Bradford block contains 20 commercial units and 42 residential units. Florida Rep currently rents 12 of the residential units for visiting artists working at the theatre.
The 110,000 square foot parking lot is essential to the theatre’s daily operations and is a significant selling point for patrons visiting downtown six nights per week during the theatre’s busy season. The acquisition of the parking lot puts the theatre in control of its usage and ensures that no matter how downtown continues to grow, theatre patrons will always have a place to park when coming to the theatre.
Florida Repertory Theatre is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and it has set up a separate LLC with appropriate professional management to maintain, operate and oversee the acquired, non-theatre-related real estate.
Talks with Bill Smith, Inc., the longtime owner of the downtown property, began in early 2019 and progressed smoothly throughout the due diligence and contracting process. “We are so pleased to be able to work with the Smith family to do this deal,” Longenhagen said. “They saw this as an opportunity to preserve not only the history of the Bradford property but also to cement Florida Repertory Theatre’s legacy as part of the cultural fabric of downtown. The Smith Family has always been a partner in Florida Rep’s success, and we are honored to take on the property and to honor their 40-year history as its owner.”
The theatre’s 2019-2020 season is set to open Sept. 24 with the musical Always…Patsy Cline in the ArtStage Studio Theatre and Ken Ludwig’s The Fox on the Fairway on Oct. 29 in the Historic Arcade Theatre. Tickets and subscriptions are available at 239-332-4488 and online at www.FloridaRep.org.