Camelot buys site in Talent

TALENT — Camelot Theatre Co. has purchased the land on which its new venue is rising instead of leasing it. But the company still has a half-million dollars to go in its capital campaign for the project.

The group initially planned to lease the land under the new building from the Talent Urban Renewal Agency, which is developing an extension of Main Street that required purchase of the current theater building and land. But financing requirements led to purchase of the .3-acre lot for $174,240.

"In order to get the construction loan and the first mortgage on the property — which we will need — the bank insisted that we own the lot," said Rich Gleitsmann, board of directors vice president.

Even with the land purchase, completed in December, the organization's goal is to finish the $2.2 million drive and own the building debt-free. A favorable construction climate that yielded lower building costs allowed the theater company to reduce the goal from $2.7 million.

"One of the great concerns is that as soon as you break ground, people think you have all the money," said Gleitsmann. "People have been very generous even in these tough economic times."

TURA had purchased the land and planned to lease it for $1 per year to the theater for 10 years. In the second 10 years of the lease, Camelot would have paid market rate. The lease agreement included an option to purchase.

Located on the northeast corner of Main Street and Talent Avenue, the theater is just north of the current building, which will be moved or torn down to make way for the extension of Main Street to West Valley View Road.

The first major production in the new building will be the musical "Sweeney Todd," beginning June 22. The 8,400-square-foot building will seat 164 patrons, up from the current location's 104-seat capacity.

Adroit Construction of Ashland is the contractor.

"It is on schedule," Gleitsmann said. "Adroit is doing a phenomenal job. They are on top of every piece of the construction. We did good pre-work. I think it paid off."

TURA will request bids in February for the first phase of road work in the area. That will include construction of a new road, called Seiber Street, east of the new building to connect Main Street with New Street. An alley will be built on the north side of the new Camelot.

Several people have approached the agency about moving the old 2,800-square-foot structure, which was originally a feed store.

"The board will take proposals from individuals who are interested in the building for whatever purpose," said Marla Cates, agency director. "Ordinarily, when it's time to build the road, the agency would need to demolish it."

Construction of Main Street leading to a roundabout on West Valley View Road is slated for 2012. The project will include a gateway to the city and a public open space with benches, lighting and pavers.

Wagner Street might ultimately be connected to the roundabout if the Talent Irrigation District can relocate from its current site on the south side of Valley View.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.

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