Capital Rep rehearsal space sold, to become apartments

Capital Repertory Theater last week shed a four-story downtown building it used for rehearsals, crea
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Capital Repertory Theater last week shed a four-story downtown building it used for rehearsals, creating a leaner company that wants to expand its operations and possibly move into a new facility.

Two Capital Region developers teamed up to buy Capital Rep’s 36,000-square-foot building at 23 Monroe St. The deal for the building, which neighbors a new 165-room Hampton Inn & Suites, closed June 30, according to CB Richard Ellis, the Albany commercial real estate firm that brokered the deal.

Rosenblum Development Corp. in Guilderland and J.W. Pfiel & Co. in Saratoga Springs paid $951,000 for the building, which they plan to convert into an upscale apartment or condominium complex with up to 25 units.

Capital Rep sold the property — also known as the City Arts Building — eight years after it bought it from the city. But Capital Rep no longer uses it for rehearsal space, and the company’s needs are changing, Capital Rep’s new managing director said.

“It’s our intent to grow artistically and serve our community even more, and this is one way to make it happen,” said Capital Rep Managing Director Elizabeth Doran.

Proceeds from the City Arts Building’s sale should significantly reduce the theater company’s historical debt and make it leaner during a rough economy. Although ticket sales remain strong, Doran said donations are slumping.

With a stronger balance sheet, Capital Rep wants to do more fundraising, play development and education programming. In September, it will release the findings of a three-year strategic plan.

“We’d love to have a new facility,” Doran said.

Doran said the new facility would not be much larger than Capital Rep’s 286-seat theater on North Pearl Street. She said the company would have to conduct a feasibility study before pursuing plans for a new theater.

Capital Rep’s roots in downtown date back to 1981, when a Catskill Mountains summer stock theater company established a permanent stage in Albany. It later moved into a former supermarket and became a vital driving force behind downtown’s revitalization.

Doran said she would like to see Capital Rep stay in downtown.

The sale of the City Arts Building will provide both Rosenblum and Pfeil with their first residential projects in downtown Albany. Rosenblum has only office space in the region and Pfeil has two condo and apartment complexes in Troy.

“There’s a lot of demand for this in Albany,” said Rosenblum Development Vice President Seth Rosenblum. His company’s premiere property in the area is the Great Oaks office Park in Guilderland.

The Monroe Street building initially served as a car dealership. Because of that original design, Rosenblum said the building’s first two floors could be used to accommodate parking.

Rosenblum Development has built 12 buildings totaling almost 500,000 square feet in the Capital Region. It is moving into Albany residential market at a time when downtown is heating up with upscale apartment condo development.

A 2006 study commissioned by the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District found that downtown could support 338 market-rate units over five years.

Two significant projects on Broadway include the 125-luxury condo Capital Grand and the mixed-use Amos @ Quackenbush, which will feature 125 market-rate apartments.

The Monroe Street building also served as the home of the Albany Center Gallery between 1987 and 2000. The gallery was pushed out of the building when the city put it up for sale. It later relocated to the Albany Public Library and most recently to a storefront space on Columbia Street.

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