Ridgefield Playhouse extends its lease
A 20-year lease renting the Ridgefield Playhouse — the auditorium it has filled with music, movies and shows for close to two decades, as well as additional space in the town-owned Venus Building on East Ridge — has been approved by the selectmen.
“I started at the Playhouse 18 years ago, believe it or not,” Playhouse executive director Allison Stockel told the selectmen.
The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Jan. 23 to give First Selectmen Rudy Marconi the go-ahead to sign the lease, pending a minor adjustment to the language.
The Ridgefield Playhouse’s rental of parts of the Venus Building have been projected to bring the town as landlord roughly $103,000 a year — $68,000 a year in rent, and $35,000 in utility charges.
The Playhouse would continue to pay just $1-a-year for the auditorium where it stages shows, along with a backstage space and an adjacent first-floor concession area that it plans to create.
In addition to the $1-a-year rent, there would be a utility charge — on a rising scale from $2.05 per square foot in 2018 to $4.36 per square foot by the lease’s end in 20 years — expected to bring the town $34,900 or more a year to cover heat and electricity for the 17,045-square-foot space.
The proposed lease also envisions the Playhouse eventually paying the town another $68,100 in rent for the 4,865 square feet of second-floor Venus Building space currently occupied by Board of Education offices. The rental rate is $14 a square foot. Rental increases will be calculated based on changes to the Consumer Price Index for the New York Metropolitan Area, with a 3%-a-year cap.
The school board offices are expected to move to the first floor of the south wing of the Venus Building — the former RVNA area, facing the police station — freeing up the space they currently occupy for rental to the Playhouse. Chef’s Warehouse, the Venus Building’s other major tenant, is expected to rent the second floor.
Before the school offices move, the Venus Building’s south wing will be renovated, with Chef’s Warehouse handing second-floor renovations and the town doing the first floor.
The renovation is mostly interior but will include what Marconi has described as a bump-out on the south-facing facade of the building to accommodate a new elevator and entrance.
The renovations are expected to take roughly a year, possibly longer.
“Let the show begin,” said selectman Steve Zemo.