SAN JOSE — A deal to ensure the San Jose Stage Company has a permanent downtown home would bring a big bonus with it: a new hotel or housing project that would sprout in the city’s up-and-coming arts, nightlife and entertainment district.
San Jose city officials, Santa Clara County officials and realty developer Swenson are teaming up with San Jose Stage Company leaders to fashion a plan that would dramatically increase the seats in the venue and add a big hotel or affordable housing to the site in the downtown’s South First Arts district.
“If this all comes together, the San Jose Stage Company would have a permanent home where it is now, and the theater would be expanded and modernized,” said Jerry Strangis, a Bay Area real estate developer and land consultant and a board member of the San Jose Stage Company.
The stage company, which now has 200 seats, would be expanded to 350 seats under the plan, Strangis said. The theater would be two levels and total 20,000 square feet, he added.
The expanded theater at 490 S. First St. would also be part of an eight-story hotel development, according to Strangis. A back-up plan that’s under consideration, should the hotel not proceed, would bring high-density affordable housing to the site. In both cases, the new San Jose Stage Company facility would operate on the bottom two floors of the larger part of the development.
The Off-Broadway live performance theater is a crucial part of the SoFA area of downtown San Jose, City Councilman Raul Peralez said in a memo written to the City Council.
“The Stage Company has been a long time arts venue in the South of First Arts District,” Councilman Peralez said.
Mindful of the prospect that property values and commercial rents will rise in downtown San Jose in the wake of big development plans for Google, Adobe Systems and numerous developers, San Jose Stage Company officials are anxious to secure a permanent location for the community theater in the city’s urban core.
The theater company has struck a deal to purchase the property where it now operates for $2.3 million. The seller would be a municipal unit known officially as Successor Agency to the San Jose Redevelopment Agency.
In one key vote to bolster the Stage Company’s acquisition of its own property, Santa Clara County has approved a $435,000 purchase loan to the stage company.
In addition, the Swenson company is providing the stage company with $1.865 million in financing to pay for the purchase through a mortgage, according to Strangis.
And to help with the new venue once it is ready to open, the San Jose City Council this week approved spending $1 million for an array of gear that would be used by the stage company in its new operation.
“We would be receiving a loan from the city that specifically would be used for theater equipment, lighting, sound equipment, the stage, all the stuff the theater will need for its build out,” Strangis said.
The property sale to the stage company should be completed this year.
“This is all very preliminary and we have a long way to go,” Strangis said. “But it’s amazing to see the city and county working together for us. The stage company is the heart and soul of the SoFA district and has been at this location for 30 years.”