North Coast Rep one step closer to building theater in Encinitas

The North Coast Repertory Theater is one step closer to building a new theater in Encinitas.

The Encinitas City Council on Feb. 16 voted to give the veteran North County theater group – currently based in Solana Beach, and known simply as “The Rep” – exclusive negotiating rights to build a performing arts theatre at the Encinitas Ranch Town Center.

The Council agreed to hire Keyster Marston Associates (KMA), at a cost “not to exceed $25,000,” according to an agenda item, to “assist in the process of negotiations.”

The Council action came several months after tentative approval was given.

In a press release, the North Coast Repertory Theater says that “in parallel” to the negotiation of a long-term property lease, it will “proceed with assessing the feasibility of design and construction of the new facility.”

“North Coast Rep has evolved substantially since its origins in the 1980s,” according to a news release. “Now in the midst of its 35th season, North Coast Rep has become widely recognized as a top-notch regional theatre, consistently bringing outstanding and innovative productions to our community, along with providing an excellent theatre school for young, aspiring actors.

“Given its growing audience and strong reputation, North Coast Rep’s management and board of trustees have been considering the possibility of developing a new theatre venue to better match the high artistic quality of its productions, and to better meet the future needs of the broader San Diego community. The agreement with the city of Encinitas represents a next step in this endeavor.

“While there is no guarantee that the negotiating agreement will result in the actual development of a new venue, we are excited and optimistic that it is an important milestone in bringing excellent live regional theatre and related events to a larger audience. We will keep the public further apprised when there is notable progress to report.”

The exclusive negotiating agreement lasts for 240 days, or eight months.

According to a memo to the Encinitas City Council from the North Coast Repertory Theatre Proposal Subcommittee and Mayor Catherine Blakespear, “A viable performing arts facility would be a significant arts and cultural resource to the community. Viability in this sense means a long-term commitment to a thriving and successful performing arts venue. Consequently, ensuring that a potential lessee such as North Coast is a qualified lessee is crucial in moving toward that goal.”

The North Coast Repertory Theater was founded in 1982 and began its 35th season on September with A.R. Gurney’s “The Cocktail Hour.” A month later, a consultant for the group – known simply as “The Rep” – gave a presentation before the City Council about its plans for a 350-seat venue.

The proposed theater would occupy a 0.7-acre pad in the Encinitas Ranch Town Center that according to the Encinitas Ranch Specific Plan, adopted in 1994, is set aside for a performing arts venue. Several theater companies have approached the Council, but no plans have ever materialized.

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