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Capital City Productions debating whether to leave Shikles Auditorium

Capital City Productions debating whether to leave Shikles Auditorium

February 10th, 2019 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

Dancers take part in a dress rehearsal for the Capital City Production “Newsies” at Shikles Auditorium on Monday, June 4, 2018.

With a deadline the first week of April, Capital City Productions must decide whether to submit a redevelopment proposal to remain in the Shikles Recreation Center or move to a different location.

The Jefferson City Housing Authority, acting as the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, recently began seeking proposals from those interested in purchasing and renovating the Shikles Auditorium at 1200 Linden Drive.

The Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department leases the Shikles building from the Housing Authority. CCP subleases the auditorium from the Parks Department.

Founded in 1991 under the name Capital City Players, CCP is a nonprofit that hosts dinner theaters.

CCP is currently weighing the pros and cons of submitting a redevelopment proposal or moving to a different location, CCP founder Rob Crouse said.

"We're a family, so this is our home," he said. "This is a very difficult process for us."

Crouse said he did not know when CCP's board of directors would decide which road to take.

Redevelopers can submit proposals until 4:30 p.m. April 5 to the Housing Authority at 1040 Myrtle Ave. The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority will review the proposals at 7:30 a.m. April 16.

Proposals must address how the redeveloper will accommodate CCP through the remainder of its lease with the Parks Department, which ends Dec. 31. CCP plans to finish its 2019 season at the Shikles Auditorium, Crouse said.

"The fact that they said they will honor it and we're telling our patrons that they're going to honor our lease until the end of the year, if we chose not to bid, that gives us some time to try to decide on other alternatives that we might do," Crouse said.

CCP's production of "Million Dollar Quartet Show" is currently running today and Feb. 13-17. Other productions planned for 2019 include "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Mamma Mia!," "Cinderella," "The Addams Family" and "Plaid Tidings."

CCP has been looking at new locations in case it can no longer call Shikles home in 2020, Crouse said.

Since moving into the Shikles Auditorium about 12 years ago, Crouse said, the nonprofit has invested tens of thousands of dollars in improvements.

CCP is accepting donations it could use if the Housing Authority accepts a potential redevelopment proposal. If CCP submits a redevelopment proposal but does not receive the award or it decides to not submit a proposal at all, the donations would go toward CCP's new home.

Those wishing to donate can mail or drop off money to CCP's legal representative, Silvey & Associates, at 425 E. High St. People also can donate through CCP's website at capitalcityproductions.org.

"We appreciate all of the support the community can give us, whatever the board decides to do, helping us to move forward after this year is over, whether it's renovating this building or moving into some other facility," Crouse said. "We've all put in so much hard work and passion and love and financial investment. We don't want Capital City Productions to just go away, so we will do all we can to make sure that doesn't happen."

After the Housing Authority announced it was discussing selling the building last summer, CCP representatives asked the Housing Authority and the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Commission to work with them on a proposal so CCP could stay in Shikles.

Since CCP told the Parks Commission it was willing to work with the commission to purchase the building after a couple of years, the Parks Commission created a subcommittee to work with the Housing Authority on this potential purchase.

Under the proposal, the Parks Department would have taken over the Shikles building for a "nominal fee," Crouse said. After two years, the Parks Department would sell the building to CCP and give the money to the Housing Authority.

The Housing Authority rejected this proposal, he said.

"CCP presented a number of options that I would not characterize as (a) proposal since they lacked details," Housing Authority Executive Director Cynthia Quetsch said. "It was a listing of possible scenarios. The Housing Authority could not accept any proposals from CCP without public notice and the opportunities for others to also bid."

If the Housing Authority wants to sell to a non-governmental entity, Quetsch said, the Housing Authority must open the process to the public so anyone could bid on the building.

The request for redevelopment is open to anyone, Quetsch said, adding CCP is "welcomed to bid."

"I'm expecting a bid from them, but I don't know that," she added.

The Housing Authority told the Parks Department it planned to seek proposals after the Housing Authority's January meeting, Quetsch and Parks Director Todd Spalding said.

"We came up with a good plan, and the Housing Authority decided to go a different direction, and we're good with that," Spalding said. "I believe that staff and commission did their due diligence. I think communication was good."

Until Tuesday, though, CCP was unaware the Housing Authority planned to seek redevelopment proposals, Crouse said. CCP was working on a second proposal to submit to the Parks Commission to offer to the Housing Authority, he added.

Quetsch directed the Parks Department to tell CCP about an open house for potential bidders Feb. 26. Spalding sent an email to CCP about the open house early last week, according to a copy of the email given to the News Tribune.

Interested redevelopers can inspect the Shikles Auditorium from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 26 if they make reservations by calling 573-635-6163 or emailing information@jchamo.org.

The Housing Authority initial announcement that it was discussing selling the Shikles Recreation Center hurt CCP's ticket sales, Crouse said. Since the Housing Authority plans to honor CCP's lease until the end of 2019, he added, he does not anticipate the redevelopment bids to impact the nonprofit's sales again.

CCP hosted 90,000 volunteers, cast members and audience members between July 2016 and the end of 2018, he said.

Renovations on the Shikles building must begin within four months of the award, with completion within 18 months. Following completion, the building must be occupied within three months.

The Housing Authority will not consider proposals for demolition, according to the request for proposal.