Arts & Real Estate

Home at last! Stages Theatre purchases historic building, plans multi-million dollar renovation

Home at last! Stages Theatre buys historic building, plans renovation

Places_A&E_Stages_Jan. 2010_exterior_day
Stages Theatre recently closed on the purchase of the historic building that has housed the production company for more than 20 years. Courtesy photo.

After spending the past three decades at their 3201 Allen Parkway location, Stages Repertory Theatre has successfully completed the purchase of the historic property from the City of Houston.

The facility comprises Stages' main building — housing its two theater spaces, box office and administrative office — and the building housing the theater's production shops, as well as the parking lot located just south of the theater on D'Amico St.

 "We expect to spend a minimum of $2 million to renovate our 'new' facility," said Stages board chairman George Lancaster. "Construction will be staged over a period of time so our operations are not disrupted." 

The purchase of the 36,452-square-foot property on Dec. 19 is the culmination of many years of work by both the theater company and the city to honor the intent of Stages' original 1993 lease and to maintain the location as an arts center for many years. 

"This stands as a milestone commitment of the City of Houston to the arts and culture sector," Kenn McLaughlin, Stages producing artistic director, said in a press release. "The plan, crafted more than 20 years ago, allowed Stages to develop and grow in an extraordinarily well-run facility. We are now fully ready and able to manage and maintain this great building, and, best of all, to renovate it and move ahead into the future. It is a great moment for both Stages and the City of Houston."

The theater group, founded in 1978, has occupied the historic building since 1985. When a developer expressed an intent to purchase and demolish the building in 1992, the City of Houston worked with Stages to help them purchase the building instead and created a long-term lease agreement that would help Stages eventually gain ownership of the property. The theater renewed the lease for five years in 2008 with an option to purchase at the end of the lease term, which they did at a price of just under $1.3 million.

Deed restrictions on the building stipulate that the facility be dedicated for use as an arts center for the next 15 years. The building's other major tenant, the Houston Arts Alliance, has expressed interest in remaining in their 10,000-square-foot space on the property.

Stages funds raised as part of an ongoing successful capital campaign are dedicated to the acquisition, renovation and sustainable operation of the center. The campaign, which remains in a "quiet" phase, has raised more than $2 million already, with a public announcement on full costs to come later in 2015.

"We expect to spend a minimum of $2 million to renovate our 'new' facility," Stages board chairman George Lancaster told CultureMap. "Construction will be staged over a period of time so our operations are not disrupted."

"If fundraising goes well, we hope to do even more to make Stages 'the' state-of-the-art medium-sized theater in Houston."