AURORA | Vintage Theatre likes its front-row seat in Aurora, and it wants to buy it.
The Aurora-based theater has expressed a desire to buy its current home at 1468 Dayton St. from the city of Aurora. The Vintage has been at the location in the Aurora Cultural Arts District since it moved to the city from Denver in 2012.
In 2014 Vintage faced serious economic troubles and the potential of shutting its doors. But the theater worked out a deal with Aurora to save the theater by buying the building from them and then renting it back to the Vintage.
“Honestly it wasn’t the best transition for us at the time (moving from Denver). There was some big things that happened right away when we moved,” said Craig Bond, Vintage’s co-founder and executive director. “Our numbers just dwindled from what we had done in Denver and we knew we had to make big changes quickly.”
Since late 2014 Vintage has been leasing the building from the city for $10 on a year-by-year basis. But now that the theater is in a much better space financially, and has truly established itself as part of the Aurora artistic community, Bond said it made sense to the theater to buy back the building and make their presence in the city a permanent one.
“We consider it our home and we want to buy our home. We want to leave a legacy for Aurora. I started this company 17 years ago and I just want to leave something beyond myself and realize it can always be there,” Bond said. “As long as the board at Vintage continues to do everything in the right way, this company can go on for decades and decades to come.”
Deborah Persoff, president of Vintage’s board of directors and a frequent presence on the theater’s stage, said Vintage wants to show residents it’s going to be a permanent contributor to the cultural community of Aurora.
“It shows our investment in Aurora, it shows the permanence, the dedication. When you think about owning your home, and this is the home theater for so many of us, the roots begin to grow. We’re going to nurture it and make it permanent,” Persoff said. “We want to be such part of Aurora’s arts center. We want to be a part of the development of East Colfax.”
Bond said that permanence is just one of the steps Vintage wants to take to be an even bigger part of the community. The theater has prided itself on not only bringing in a diverse range of plays but bringing in plays that reflect the diversity of the surrounding community. And this proposal is just one step in many it will be taking in the coming years to make sure they’re seen as both a destination for people outside of the city limits and for people just down the street.
Part of the reason Vintage is in a place to buy back the building is it has been able to continuously expand the number of seats it’s been able to fill in a season.
Bond said the theater sold 17,000 tickets last year, 5,000 more than it sold in 2012. Along with a growing customer base, Vintage has increased the amount of grants it has received, bringing in more than $135,000 in 2017.
Bond said Vintage would be able to access even more revenue through grants and other sources if it owned its own building, which would then allow it to make improvements to the space.
In a December letter to the city, the Vintage proposed buying the building back with the city acting as the lender for the theater’s purchase. The Aurora City Council’s Housing, Neighborhood Services and Redevelopment Committee gave the initial go ahead for the city to investigate the idea of a sale during its March 6 meeting.
The city will now due its due diligence over the next several months about the value of the property and how a potential sale could work, said Julie Patterson, spokeswoman for Aurora. Once that’s done, negotiations could begin between Vintage and City Council.
“It would be toward the end of the year before the negotiations would occur,” Patterson said.