In preparation for its new home, Clear Space Theatre Company will be razing the two, century-old beach cottages on its recently purchased property on Rehoboth Avenue.
According to public notices published Feb. 25 in the Cape Gazette, the city issued demolition permits Feb. 19 for 413 and 415 Rehoboth Ave. The permit for 413 calls for the demolition of a two-story single-family dwelling, while the permit for 415 calls for the demolition of a one-story single-family dwelling and an accessory structure. The demolitions can not happen before Saturday, March 21.
In an email Feb. 25, Clear Space Executive Director Wesley Paulson said the two houses date to at least the 1920s, and have been used for commercial space for the last 50 to 60 years. He said after demolition, the lots will be leveled in preparation for construction.
The first two months of 2020 have been busy for Clear Space. In early January, the theater company announced it had purchased 413, 415 and 417 Rehoboth Ave.; no demolition permit is needed for 417 because the lot is empty. A couple weeks after purchasing the property, Clear Space announced it would be using the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center for the 2021 season because its lease for 20 Baltimore Ave. runs out at the end of this year.
Getting to the demolition stage has been an 18-month process. Clear Space announced a proposal for a new 25,600-square-foot home on Rehoboth Avenue in October 2018. Almost immediately, the building’s design drew opposition from city residents because of its size, failure to meet parking requirements and safety concerns.
There’s a new design in the works, but Paulson said Clear Space is not yet ready to share it. He said the hope is to build something similar in size and appearance to the 275-seat Proscenium Theatre at University of Maryland Baltimore County, which was designed by Clear Space’s architect.
According to real estate listings found online, Clear Space purchased the Rehoboth Avenue property for $2.1 million. Paulson said the budget for construction of the theater has not yet been determined. He said the project will be financed by a capital campaign and a mortgage.
“We are in the quiet phase of fundraising,” said Paulson.
Rehoboth on record-setting pace for demolition permits
The demolition permits for the Clear Space structures weren’t the only ones recently issued. The city also issued a permit Feb. 20 for a one-story single-family dwelling and an accessory structure at 39 Columbia Ave. According to real estate listings, this Tudor-style cottage was built around 1940 and sold for approximately $1.4 million in April 2018.
The permit for the Columbia Avenue house is the seventh permit issued by Rehoboth in 2020. A new record for demolition permits issued was set in 2019, with 34. The city didn’t issue the seventh permit in 2019 until March 4.
The permit for Columbia Avenue bucks the trend in one respect – it’s north of Rehoboth Avenue. In 2019, 70 percent of the demolition permits, 24, were for homes and structures south of Rehoboth Avenue. Since 2016, of 123 demolition permits issued, 81 of them have been south of Rehoboth Avenue.
Permits issued annually, since April 2012:
- 2012: 14
- 2013: 15
- 2014: 23
- 2015: 23
- 2016: 30
- 2017: 30
- 2018: 27
- 2019: 34
- 2020: 7 to date
Permits issued by month, since April 2012:
- January – 19
- February – 12
- March – 22
- April – 8
- May – 6
- June – 3
- July – 9
- August – 42
- September – 28
- October – 26
- November – 17
- December – 11