A local theater company will be pushed out of the Market Arcade Film & Arts Center, with the city's sale of the multiple-screen and fiscally-troubled movie complex to Benchmark Group.
The city had been unhappy with the situation for years because of continuing subsidies. Road Less Traveled productions has been the resident theater company, operating out of a space which was used for movies when there was nothing on stage.
Now, the city is selling to Benchmark, which plans a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion of the Theater District landmark, with an AMC cinema to open in summer of 2016. The theater company has been the only tenant since the complex stopped showing movies on June 19.
Road Less Traveled Executive and Artistic Director Scott Behrend says he has been looking around for a new site because of the uncertainty about the building.
"I'm confident that we are going to be able to find a new space, perhaps, and be able to work with maybe another developer too on another space. There's so many things happening in the City of Buffalo all the time now, which is very exciting. I'm pretty hopeful that we're going to be able to make this transition," Behrend told WBFO News.
Road Less Traveled's season kicks off tonight with Ira Levin's Deathtrap. Behrend says City Hall has already reached out and agreed to help find another space. The theater company will remain in the Market Arcade until the end of the current season
Behrend says he supports the economic improvements in the city but rising prices and rents make it harder for smaller cultural agencies like his. He says he may be priced out of the Theater District.
"Real estate prices are going up and there's so much great development going on. But because of those things, small arts organizations like mine are in a tougher spot now because all those great spaces that were very cheap years ago are not so cheap anymore," Behrand says.
There is one other nearby theater which will soon be vacant, the Forbes Theater in the Buffalo Christian Center. The building is being sold Ellicott Development.