Gladstone Theatre to survive after conditional sale to supportive buyer

The Gladstone Theatre has been conditionally sold to a buyer who is committed to keeping the building a theatre, the building’s current leaseholder said Wednesday.

 

“Having met with (current owner) Steve Martin and the real estate agent and the new buyer, I am thoroughly convinced by the sincerity of the new buyer wanting to continue to lease to us,” said David Whiteley, co-artistic director of Plosive Productions.

 

Plosive has leased the building for nine-month leases every year since 2011 – its current lease expires at the end of the 2015-16 season in May – and Mr. Whiteley said although signing a new lease was a condition of the sale, that condition was waived when it became clear the new buyer and Mr. Whiteley were going to be able to work together on terms of a new lease.

Mr. Whiteley said the new buyer, who will not be named until the deal is finalized, wants a “fair return” but isn’t terribly concerned about the specifics of a new lease, as long as they are terms Plosive can meet.

“He wouldn’t want to set a new rate which we can’t manage, putting him on the hunt for a new tenant,” he said. “He wants us to be the tenant and he’s ready to work with us on terms that will work for us to let us continue using the theatre as it is.”

Mr. Whiteley said the conditional buyer is active in the real estate industry and the Gladstone is “a drop in the bucket” of his portfolio.

“We all want to see it grow but he’s not going to put a gun to our heads and say ‘Well, you better find a way to make it more profitable so you can pay higher rent or you’ll be out.’ Not at all, he’s ready to work with us,” he said, adding the new buyer’s financial future doesn’t “hang in the balance” of the rent he gets for the building.

Still, Mr. Whiteley said both parties would like to get a new lease hammered out sooner rather than later, although they will take the time necessary to make it fair for both sides. He said the conditional sale will not fall through if lease negotiations take longer than expected.

“(The conditional owner) has a very relaxed attitude, he’s very supportive of us. He knows what he’s getting into and all of that combines me to feel very confident that although things are not concluded yet, they will be,” he said.

Mr. Whiteley couldn’t say exactly when he expects the sale to be final, but said it would be in the “reasonably near future.

“It’s not going to drag on forever,” he said while on a break from rehearsals for Table Manners, the first of three plays that make up The Norman Conquests which opens the Gladstone’s 2015-16 season Aug. 28.

The season is the most ambitious one yet for the theatre with 19 shows over 40 weeks of programming.