KCPT still looking to sell uptown house

Posted 7/3/19

Key City Public Theatre has been trying to sell its uptown property for four years with no luck. Now, time is running short. A notice of foreclosure has been filed to go into effect August 30.

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KCPT still looking to sell uptown house

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Key City Public Theatre has been trying to sell its uptown property for four years with no luck. Now, time is running short. A notice of foreclosure has been filed to go into effect August 30.

The nonprofit theatre organization bought the property at 1128 Lawrence Street in 2006 with the aim of building a larger theater in its place. The 8,500-square-foot lot is zoned for commercial use. On the property is a 1,293-square-foot house built in 1900.

It was the peak of the local housing boom when Key City Public Theatre bought the property for $500,000.

Ian Keith, a board member at the time, loaned KCPT the $500,000 to purchase the building. A $300,000 bequest from Reed Austin, an illustrator and former assistant art director at Playboy magazine who loved musical theater, helped pay down that loan.

“There was a sense of urgency that if we don’t get this property now, there will never be another viable property,” said Denise Winter, artistic director of KCPT. “So we did it. But it has never been worth half a million.”

But as soon as they began to launch a capital campaign to raise money for a new theatre on the property, the financial recession of 2008 hit.

“We were trying to launch a capital campaign at a time when the theatre itself didn’t even have much annual giving,” Winter said.

The theatre arranged interest-only payments on the loan of $820 per month.

“It was a two-year loan with a balloon payment,” Winter said. “After the two years were up, it was extended for another two years, then another two years.”

The balloon payment of $199,060.38 was due in 2012, according to the notice of foreclosure, but in a handshake agreement, Keith agreed that KCPT could continue only paying interest payments, Winter said.

“Nobody thought it was going to go on for over a decade,” she said.

Winter said they have never missed an interest payment, but that after years of holding the legal claim on the building, Keith decided to file a notice of foreclosure.

His lawyer, Allison Mahaney, would not comment on any of the current proceedings, but Winter expressed that KCPT is grateful for everything that Keith had done and understood his decision.

“We’re not forgetting that it was a huge leap of faith for him to make it possible for us to grow like this,” Winter said. “We want to honor that he wants to move on.”

KCPT has been trying to sell the building since 2014 and is currently asking $389,000. Winter said they have had at least three offers, but that city zoning and parking laws have made it a difficult property to sell.

“There are people very seriously interested,” said Teresa Goldsmith, KCPT’s Realtor. “But currently nothing is pending.”

And while the dream of building a new theatre uptown might have ended, Winter said owning the property helped KCPT grow. “Having it was a catalyst to success for the organization,” she said. With the extra office space, rehearsal rooms and housing for artistic apprentices, KCPT was able to make better use of its space downtown and grow exponentially.

“I believe that once we have let go of that property, that’s when we will free up our resources to begin a path towards more seats and more creativity,” she said.

But right now, their main goal is to sell the house as soon as possible. The other option would be to raise the money from donors to pay off the balance and release Keith from the position of being lienholder. If that happens, KCPT will still want to sell the building.

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