No action yet on potential Vail arts venue
Ryan Summerlin November 14, 2012
VAIL, Colorado – A group of community members interested in leasing the vacant theater and studio space attached to the Vail Cascade Resort has to move quickly in order to make the deal work.
The so-called group hasn’t formerly organized yet, although members from various nonprofit organizations have shown interest in the idea. Local developer and former owner of the building Michael Hecht brought forth the proposal last month as a representative for the new owners. He met with a few more interested parties Friday morning and it became immediately obvious that a more formal business plan is needed before anyone can consider the lease. Someone is also needed to plant the seed money, it appears, because of the nonprofits’ financial restraints.
Rayla Kundolf, who runs the Masters Gallery in Vail and is a member of the town of Vail’s Commission on Special Events, is leading the charge. She has wanted to revive the old theater and dance studio space in the building for years, but nothing ever seemed viable until now.
The price tag is $10,000 a month for the two theaters and two studios, plus another $2,000 a month for some office space if the groups choose to rent it. While the rent is a bargain at roughly $20 per square foot, none of the nonprofit groups interested have indicated they’ll put up the money to get the lease signed.
“It seems to me like everyone’s waiting for someone else to step up,” said Jenn Bruno, a town of Vail Commission on Special Events member who listened to Hecht present the proposal Friday. “I just think you’re looking for an individual.”
Bruno was referring to a donor of some kind – perhaps a patron of the arts for whom the theater space could be named, or perhaps someone interested in the project who would be willing to provide a line of credit to the nonprofits to get the project rolling.
The current proposal for a 24-month lease means they need $240,000, but Bruno pointed out they’d probably need more like $150,000 to get it started. After that, revenues generated from the events held at the facilities – such as theater performances, comedy nights, film showings and concerts, for example – could theoretically support the rest.
The lease would allow the groups to use the build-in concessions area, which Hecht said generates an average of $2 per person during performances. One theater holds about 70 people and the other holds more than 250 people, so consistent revenue possibilities are certainly there.
Hecht said the owners could be open to a longer term lease, but the initial offer is to gauge whether there’s enough traction for the idea and to see if it can be successful.
There may even be an option to buy, he added.
Kundolf invited Mindy Brill-Mauro and P.J. Walder, both community members with an interest in performing and cultural arts, to hear the proposal Friday. The women were intrigued, but agreed they can’t present the idea to potential donors without more information and a specific business plan.
Walder suggested a dinner or event of some kind to “sell this idea to patrons in the community.”
Those present Friday also included Bill Pierce, an architect who has done some schematic design concepts of what the space could look like once revitalized. Representatives from the Vail International Dance Festival, Vail Jazz Foundation and Vail Valley Theater Company who attended the initial meeting last month were not there, but Kundolf said there’s still interest from those groups.
Hecht said the owners are already looking at other options for the building, so the groups need to act quickly on the lease opportunity. He said the owners would like to have a lease signed by the end of the year, but acknowledged the process of getting the plan more organized and funded could allow a little more time.
“There is certainly a sense for urgency,” Hecht said. “This concept has been going on for five years.”
Bruno said there needs to be action, and fast. Instead of sitting around and talking about it, she suggested that Kundolf put together all the specifics – how it would look, what it would cost, who would use the facilities, etc. – in order to present it to potential users and donors as soon as possible.
“You need a realistic business plan,” Bruno said.
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