Request for bidders on the horizon for Playhouse Theater
NEW CANAAN — The Town is a step closer to selling the historic Playhouse Theater.
The theater, operated by Bowtie Cinemas, was purchased by the town in 2007 for $2.2 million. The committee, formed in June 2015, is tasked with finding a feasible path forward for the theater in which the town would no longer own the building.
At a Sept. 14 meeting of the committee, chairman Steve Karl presented a draft RFP (request for proposal) to his fellow members, which had been edited by Town Attorney Ira Bloom and outlines the goals of the committee and the selection criteria with which bidders will be judged.
Among the objectives the document says should be displayed by candidates are a commitment to maintaining a theatre in some capacity, willingness to take input from the town, ability to address existing building and maintenance issues and a dedication to maintaining and enhancing the “historic characteristics of the building.”
According to committee member John Engel, the hope is to issue a finished RFP by Oct. 1, thus beginning the expected six to eight week process required to find a new owner.
“We want to go through this process in the fall so that if we are unsuccessful in getting a bid, we’ll know that before the budget season begins in January. That way we can earmark funds for the repair of the playhouse,” Engel said.
Tucker Murphy, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce and a tenant of the Playhouse building, told the New Canaan News she’s hopeful that the RFP will result in a suitable proposal for a public-private partnership.
“It is clear that residents believe the theater is critical to the charm of our downtown,” Murphy said.
“Taxpayers here are passionate, as we have seen over and over again, when change is on the horizon. But this would be a perfect example of people coming out in support of saving the theater.”
Chairman of the Playhouse Committee and Town Council member Steve Karl said he also feels positively about the upcoming bidding process.
“We remain very optimistic and hopeful that we will find a suitable partner once we issue the RFP and word spreads about this unique opportunity,” Karl said via email.
Karl added that, though the RFP does not require approval from the Town Council, it will likely be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting.