Hopes are high that a barrier to the construction of Near West Theatre’s new home will be removed by this fall, now that a key utility project has begun. Big saws from Cleveland Public Power sliced into the pavement at West 67th Street and Detroit Avenue on Aug. 23, the first step in underground electrical work that will allow old, overhead electrical transformers next to the theater site to be relocated and replaced. Meantime, Near West Theatre’s Board of Trustees this week is deliberating on critical financing and fundraising plans that will also inform the construction schedule.
Before construction can start, old, overhead electrical wires and transformers must be relocated. They serve the Gordon Square Arcade Building across the street and must be replaced by underground cables and new, ground-mounted transformers elsewhere. Since first cutting into the pavement, CPP crews have been at work intermittently with jack hammers, excavators, dump trucks and cement mixers, creating the trenches that will house the underground system. Their deadline for switching power to the new system and removing the old poles and transformers is Oct. 20.
At their meeting on Sept. 19, the NWT Trustees will receive a construction update and lean into several issues related to the project. With about $800,000 left to raise to complete the project, they will consider financing options to cover that amount plus portions of capital pledges that are being paid out over several years. Fundraising would then continue while the theater is built. Also on the agenda are a proposed one-year extension of the Gordon Square Arts District capital campaign, through 2014; a transfer of land to the City of Cleveland for eventual construction of an 18-space parking lot just north of the new theater; nominations of two new Trustees; and an action plan in key areas: completing the new building, boosting earned income, measuring Near West Theatre’s impact, and continuing a Board-approved succession plan.
Near West Theatre’s Board meetings are public, by the way, and this one – also functioning as the Annual Meeting called for in the bylaws – will begin at 5:40 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, in the Community Room in the basement of the Gordon Square Arcade Building, 6516 Detroit Ave. If you are interested in attending, please contact Lindsay Doerr, email@example.com, 216-961-9750. — Hans Holznagel