Editorial: Clear Space expansion is welcome news for Rehoboth
Clear Space Theatre Company recently announced it intends to stay in downtown Rehoboth Beach, unveiling ambitious plans for a 300-seat theater on Rehoboth Avenue.
Clear Space was founded in 2004 and has operated in the old Epworth United Methodist Church building on Baltimore Avenue since 2010. The company considered moving out of town, where it likely would have rented space, but ultimately decided to own a new downtown location. The proposal calls for developing three properties on the north side of the Avenue, between The Ark condo building and the circle.
Officials recently unveiled plans for an elegant building large enough not only for stage productions but also for a classroom, rehearsal hall, larger dressing rooms and an improved backstage area – new spaces that can only enhance productions and programs Clear Space has offered for more than a decade. Those programs include acting classes for hundreds of actors of all ages as well as offering performances to underserved audiences.
One hurdle the plans will have to overcome is the city’s requirement for parking. Plans for the 25,600-square-foot facility call for 28 parking spaces in a garage that would sit six feet below ground level. While 28 spaces are less than what code requires, theater officials point out it’s 28 more spaces than the theater currently provides on Baltimore Avenue.
The proposed building would also exceed the city’s 45-foot height limit, which would likely draw opposition, except that it will be nestled next to The Ark, which, built before the height limit was imposed, also exceeds that limit. As a result, the new theater will be in scale with its closest neighbor.
While there are problems to solve, we applaud the commitment of Clear Space to remain downtown. A modern, first-class theater will draw artists and audiences into town year-round, highlighting Rehoboth as the crown jewel of Delaware’s resort destinations, not only for its beaches and restaurants but also for its performing arts.