City Beat

Sacramento City Council OKs $2.5 million for planned theater complex

An artist’s rendition of the planned new B Street Theatre in midtown Sacramento is shown at a fundraiser last year.
An artist’s rendition of the planned new B Street Theatre in midtown Sacramento is shown at a fundraiser last year. jvillegas@sacbee.com

The Sacramento City Council on Thursday approved a $2.5 million gift to help the B Street Theatre finalize the funding it needs for a long-planned complex in midtown.

B Street is raising money for a $25.7 million facility at 27th Street and Capitol Avenue. The city has been working with the theater company since May 2006 on coming up with that money.

The theater has been awarded an $8.4 million loan from the state-operated California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (I-Bank), but that loan is contingent upon the theater securing solid funding for the entire project cost. Funding from the city will also help B Street win federal tax credits it is seeking of $8.6 million, according to a city staff report.

“We know a crowning achievement for kids in this city would be a new B Street Theatre on Capitol Avenue,” theater co-founder Buck Busfield told the City Council.

Sutter Health has already committed to donating land for the project valued at nearly $6 million. The hospital network has also said it will give $50,000 a year to the theater for operating funds for 10 years and $1 million to help guarantee the I-Bank loan.

The city’s contribution will be in the form of a forgivable loan and is conditional upon B Street coming up with the rest of the project cost. The money is coming from the proceeds of the sale of city-owned property at the corner of Fair Oaks Boulevard and Howe Avenue to a developer.

While a groundbreaking for the theater project has been delayed, theater officials are hopeful they can begin construction next year.

“This is a huge move in the right direction,” said Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents midtown.

B Street is seeking to construct a 45,000-square-foot theater complex one block from the new Sutter General Hospital under construction. The building would include a 364-seat children’s theater, another 250-seat facility and a restaurant.

The theater averages more than 95,000 ticket sales per year, but has to turn away 2,000 schoolchildren a year from matinee performances because of limited space, according to the city staff report. An expanded theater would allow the company to accommodate about 35,000 more patrons per year, city officials said.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/citybeat.

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