I am challenging the Coconut Grove landlords
It seems that the people I called out to make this work, the BID, Village Council, Chamber and Commissioner, are all behind the project of bringing New Theatre to Coconut Grove. In fact, a friend of mine has been working with the New Theatre behind the scenes for the past two years on finding a space. The problem now is finding a space.
Every empty space in Coconut Grove has been looked at and the bottom line seems to be these landlords would rather have empty storefronts than something in there. Look, many of the art galleries and other businesses in the Grove get reduced rents to fill in empty storefronts with the knowledge that when a high paying tenant arrives, they are out. How about the same with the New Theatre?
In a perfect world, the New Theatre could be part of the renovated playhouse which could happen one of these days, but how about a space for a year or two? All the New Theatre needs is a space to operate. Some of the other theatres in our area pay $1 a year for rent, this is because the landlords, the building owners, care enough about culture to do this. The City could step in and demand something back from landlords who are always asking for things from the City, like parking varients and other things. New York City has done this to allow new theaters to come in, including the Signature Theatre Company.
I challenge the landlords in Coconut Grove who have had empty spaces sitting there for years to offer them to the New Theatre. The theatre will bring business and commerce to the Grove. It will bring life back to the area, in turn, bringing business to other properties owned by the landlords that are already here and suffering.
I challenge Mayfair to open up the new Black Box theater that was built under the old ownership and being offered for this purpose. Right now, there is a standstill due to high rents. I challenge the owner of the former Guess store that sits there rotting, I challenge the former Chicago's restaurant space and the other spaces off Florida Avenue and other areas that just sit there rotting.
The odd part is that the New Theatre is ready to move and they literally can take the seats that are at their current location, plop them down in a new location, build some sets and perform. We can also have the New Theatre participate in free programs around the Village like free Shakespeare in the Park at the Mayfair Promenade or Atrium or at CocoWalk.
All we need now is a space. This is the time for someone to stand up and offer their empty storefront or location for culture at a lower rent for a limited time (a year or two?). Until the economy turns around, the place is going to sit empty anyway. I challenge you. We all challenge you to be a hero and bring culture to Coconut Grove! This could be the turn around that Coconut Grove has been waiting for.
One friend of mine offered up his large space for a future Pan Am Museum, he said to me, "You can just have it." How about letting the New Theatre just have it instead? I know for a fact, it has been stitting there empty all this time.
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