Clear Space Theatre Company may not be getting a new home on Rehoboth Avenue, but at the very least, it appears the theater made a smart investment on the three lots it tried to build on.
According to online listings, the three lots at 413, 415 and 417 Rehoboth Ave. have been sold for $2.8 million. The theater purchased the three 50-by-100-foot parcels for $2.1 million in late 2019.
In a press release Nov. 15, Clear Space Executive Director Wesley Paulson confirmed the sale of the lots and said the theater’s search for space outside the city continues.
“We are not finished. It is time to look ahead to what possibilities are out there,” said Paulson in a prepared statement.
Founded in 2004, Clear Space has been operating in the old Epworth United Methodist Church property on Baltimore Avenue since 2010. With a lease set to expire Dec. 31, 2020, and in advance of purchasing the property, the theater introduced a one-building design covering all three Rehoboth Avenue lots in October 2018. After significant pushback from surrounding neighbors, Clear Space revealed its plans for a two-building layout in May 2020.
After years of delays due to lawsuits and process-approval appeals, the theater’s board of directors voted to sell the properties in July. Soon after, they were put up for sale and listed at $2.99 million.
The lots are now cleared, but two had included houses when Clear Space purchased them. The two-story house at 415 Rehoboth Ave. was demolished in May 2020. A historic beach bungalow at 413 Rehoboth Ave. was moved across town and renovated.
The three lots are in the city’s C-1 commercial district, which allows for full lot coverage. However, because the lots have R-2 general residential lots to the north, city code requires a five-foot setback in the rear yard. Code also calls for a screen in order to shield or obscure the lot from those in the abutting residential district.
For now, the theater will remain on Baltimore Avenue – about halfway through 2020, officials signed a 5-year lease because the process with the city was taking so long – but it’s not clear what the theater’s next move will be toward finding a new home.
Throughout the drawn-out process with the city, Paulson said the theater’s business model depends on the foot traffic offered by having a facility within walking distance of downtown.